Hollywood’s New Embrace on Christian Films

Posted on May 3, 2016 by

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Hannah Frasier

World Religions Final

In past years, Hollywood’s embrace on Christian religion movies has been less than welcoming. The few movies that have made their way to the box office have had a reputation for poor quality productions with sub – par acting. Why, specifically, are you able to see a rise happening in these types of films? From gathering information from many sources, it seems that many people have many different answers to why Christian movies are a growing success. Even before discussing the article specifics, each article seems to have a different outlook and side that the author stands on. I believe there is an obvious difference and connection between how the article comes across with the authors personal views. I will talk about my first impressions of the chosen articles. I will then discuss why current news articles believe that Christian movies are coming back into the spotlight with a positive view from Hollywood and their audience. This corresponds with the question; why were Christian movies never as popular in theatres? Like I mentioned before, the answers to these questions were very scattered and come from different points of view in which case in very interesting to me.

Right from the start of reading these news articles, there was a part in the middle of the red sea. I read one article with the title, ‘Has Hollywood Now Found god?’ This, to me seems like the author’s way of stately that Hollywood has not had good luck with Godly movies in the past, but they also seem weary of the current trend. Another title I ran across was, ‘Faith-Based Movies: Hollywood Is Embracing Christian Values – And Seeing Earthly Rewards’. This title is exactly what the article sounds like; all about the profit and money value of the newly shown movies. Unlike other articles discussing the sociology of the reasoning behind the big boom, this specific write-up is all in to show their readers the earnings behind Christian movies. One other article, ‘Why Is Hollywood Obsessed with Making Christian Movies?’ is telling the reader that they are annoyed with more Christian movies being churned out. The article, however, gives the opposite take on the topic and talks thoroughly about the positive of an abundance of Christian religious movies.

On to the main question regarding this subject and its articles; why is Hollywood now embracing Christian movies and producing a noticeable increase of this genre of religious films? Each article that I studied, really gave me a different answer. This is also the same question as this. Why have past Christian movies been less than popular? They go hand in hand. Each article seems to answer these two questions together also. In an interview with Kevin Sorbo, one of Hollywood’s most notable Christian actors appearing in a number of films such as God’s Not Dead and Soul Surfer, he spoke to The Gospel Herald, an online publication, talking about why he believes Hollywood is “waking up” to the faith-based film industry. “I think that most people would agree that faith-based movies back in the 70’s, 80’s, and even the 90’s were very cheesy, poorly written, and poorly acted. A lot of people were turned off by them, because they were also too preachy. We live in a world where people don’t want to be told what to believe in and what not to believe in. You have to walk a fine line to hold an audience – obviously, you’ve got the choir up there, but you don’t want to just preach to the choir, you want to preach to the “independent voters” – someone who is searching for what to believe.” Sorbo also mentions how in modern times, there are more and more people coming out saying that they are Christian. Hollywood is slowly waking up to the reality of a larger Christian movie audience. There is a void that needs to be filled where family’s want wholesome entertainment. According to Los Angeles-based director and screenwriter Chris Dowling, “It’s been this way: [major studios] see that the faith crowd comes out and supports things,” Dowling told www.ChristianPost.com. “And to me, Christian films are almost like the new genre picture. Back in the day, studios would have a million to two million dollars to take a chance on something – on a horror film, now its faith stuff because the market will eat it up.” Dowling is coming from a business point of view where as Sorbo channels his faith based reasoning. These specific examples show what each article is trying to convey to their readers; faith on one side, business on the other. I was able to find another article discussing both of those sides. This article from International Business Times has a tidbit from, Tim Gautier, writer/producer of the new faith-based film “Eternal Salvation. He says the filmmakers are agreeing that now is a better time than ever to jump on the Christian film bandwagon. There is a lot of pent up demand. He says. “It’s absolutely an underserved market. Christians are really looking for good stories with a great message that can impact them emotionally.” This is another side to the story with a positive sounding reaction to the article. Gautier then switches the mood with a look into the economic aspects to the new coming religious movies. He throws in, “A lot of people in this country today and worldwide are feeling the financial crunch. Prices are going up. People are strapped financially and going through emotional problems and looking for something outside of themselves.” Lastly from another interview done with Kevin Sorbo and Fox news, Sorbo speaks out with saying, “You don’t get atheist directors to direct movies that deal with the Bible. It’s ridiculous – at least get an agnostic.” From my understanding is that these authors are trying to get to the root and really show people evidence that Christian movies are really raising the bar. Is this for money reasons? Why do common movie goers need to be persuaded to see these movies? If the movies are receiving better than good reviews, then wouldn’t people make the effort to see these inspirational movies on their own? Another thought is that not all, but many articles seemed to put almost a comical spin on the idea of Christian movies flooding the box offices. One article I reviewed in which I have mentioned before had the title, “Has Hollywood finally found god?” Specifically digging into this title, ‘God’ was not capitalized when it is regularly capitalized in the form that they were using it in. They also included a picture of Morgan Freeman playing the role of God in one of his many religious themed movies. Doesn’t this seem a little like they are making fun of the rise in movie genre? Whereas the other articles I read were more on a positive level.

Each article broke down in sections 2 main questions. What is the reasoning for this current comeback and why were these movies not popular before?  I noticed that each article would either sound very judgmental of the reads or they would sound almost like they were justifying to the common movie goer why they should watch more Christian movies.  I felt a little pushed in one direction by most of the articles. Reading through the articles covering this subject matter, it was a lot easier to find sources that are positive because that is what a reader would most likely want to see. A positive look into why Christian Films are now being embraced by Hollywood.

 

  1. Cottrel, Nicole. “Why Do Christian Movies Suck?” ChurchLeaders.com. Church Leaders, 2011. Web. 03 May 2016.
  2. Haverluck, Michael F. “Sorbo: Hollywood Finally Embracing Christian Movies.” Sorbo: Hollywood Finally Embracing Christian Movies. One News Now, 10 Apr. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.
  3. Klett, Leah Marieann. “Exclusive Interview: ‘God’s Not Dead’ Actor Kevin Sorbo Says Hollywood Is Finally ‘Waking Up’ to Faith-Based Film Industry.” Christian News The Gospel Herald RSS. The Gospel Herald, 05 Apr. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.
  4. Koonse, Emma. “Why Is Hollywood Obsessed with Making Christian Movies?” Christian Post. The Christian Post, 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 03 May 2016.
  5. Merritt, Jonathan. “How Secular Hollywood Is Unwittingly Promoting the Christian Faith.” How Secular Hollywood Is Unwittingly Promoting the Christian Faith. The Week, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 03 May 2016.
  6. Pressburg, Matt. “Faith-Based Movies: Hollywood Is Embracing Christian Values – And Seeing Earthly Rewards.” International Business Times. 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.
  7. Spadafino, Joseph T. “‘Religious Liberty’ Laws and Christian Films a Temporary Reflex to Losing Privileges.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 08 Aug. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.
  8. Stanley, Tim. “Has Hollywood Finally Found God?” 25 Apr. 2016. Web. 2 May 2016.
  9. Stanley, Tim. “Is God Making a Comeback in Hollywood?” The World Weekly. The World Weekly, 28 Apr. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.
  10. Verhoeven, Beatrice. “Hollywood Hallelujah: Expect a Wave of Faith-Based Movies This Year.” TheWrap. The Wrap, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.
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