Thinking Out Loud

March 25, 2018

Faith-Based Films: On the Range Between Feast and Famine, Now is Definitely Feast

She left a note on my Facebook page saying that she had gone to see I Can Only Imagine this weekend, but it was sold out. Fortunately, she had a second choice at the very same theater complex, namely the film Paul, Apostle of Christ. Even for that, she got the last two seats.

It’s a busy enough week for Christian families in North America with Good Friday, Easter Sunrise, and Easter Sunday services happening, but with three top Christian movies releasing within 20 days of each other, it digs deep into both the schedule and the pocketbook.

Forbes reported,

Sony’s Paul, Apostle of Christ debuted in 1,473 theaters but ran into the populist/crowd-pleasing I Can Only Imagine. Sony ran the tables in faith-based dramas for a few years, but now it looks like Lionsgate is a force to be reckoned with. Even with Jim Caviezel returning to the faith-based sub-genre 14 years after The Passion of the Christ, this Bible story flatlined. It snagged $1.66 million on Friday for a likely $5.1m debut weekend. Yes, the Affirm flick cost just $5m, but this isn’t a good result and shows that the Christian rock biopic may be the exception to the rule.

(See also the website, Box Office Mojo.)

Here in Canada, we have a dedicated website just to track the various movies and where they’re playing. FaithFilms.ca is a venture of Graf-Martin Communications, which is involved in promotion and publicity for these films, many times involving both the theatrical release and subsequent DVD, along with related books or novelizations.

The Guardian in the UK also reported on the upswing in faith-focused films.

As Hollywood struggles with sexual harassment scandals and box-office woes, it could do worse than turn to God. For while religious movies have traditionally been considered a niche phenomenon, that assessment may need to be revised.

But the story based on Bart Millard’s song is definitely a surprise hit. The Guardian continues,

[Co-director] Jon Erwin says he was told there “was no audience for a Christian music movie … But everybody I knew – in the Christian world that we live in – knew and loved the song, so we just believed that there was an audience for this movie and that they would show up”. I Can Only Imagine was ultimately picked up by Roadside Attractions, maker of Manchester By The Sea, and Lionsgate. The distributors agreed to promote it as a general audience production. With a $25m box-office take so far, it is also showing Hollywood that Christians can make consistent, repeat filmgoers. Audience polling found that 79% said they planned to pay to see the movie again.

That one I really wanted to see the most, but there were no advance screenings which means there were no reviews in the Friday newspapers on the weekend it released. I can only imagine how good it is! (Terrible humor, I know.)

The third movie in 20 days? God’s Not Dead 3 opens in North America on March 30th, just in time for the Easter weekend crowd, and in the UK on May 25th.


We are hoping to get to the Paul movie this week, provided our local cinema accepts our passes this time!

April 26, 2014

Faith Movies in Perspective

I’d never heard of the website Grantland until Sarah Pulliam-Bailey mentioned it yesterday, but there’s some great stats on the faith-based films from the past few years. The article is titled, God’s Not Dead (He’s Playing Now in Movie Theaters). There’s a chart showing some of the current movies in perspective alongside their ‘secular’ counterparts, a chart showing how some of the religious reels fared on opening weekend,

Opening Week Gross Movies Classified as Christian

and a chart showing the total domestic gross for each of those pictures you’ll have to click through to see.

The article is long and raises some good questions:

…But that’s not the entire story. Because there’s the less-glamorous, more uncomfortable side of the story. The how and the why. How are these movies doing well? And why now? It’s near impossible to dive into these questions with a number set, a brief synopsis, a cast list, or even a handful of trailers. Beginning to scratch that surface involves actually seeing these films. Seeing all of them. On the same day. You know, on Easter Sunday.

Which is exactly what Grantland writer Rembert Browne did. Reviews of the four films follow, with the subjectivity that can only be achieved by watching them all at once!

And there’s more to come. On May 9th, Mom’s Night Out opens, and on Wednesday night, we got to attend the first preview showing in Canada. I’ll have more to say about that film in a few days.

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