Rumors of the possibility started mid last week, after WAR ROOM’s strong opening weekend put it in second place. With no big blockbusters scheduled for Labor Day (a surprise in itself) and the Kendrick Brother’s past history of strong word-of-mouth, the idea of the film moving up to the top spot was plausible.
Toss in nearly 400 new theaters, mostly positive press coverage, and the expected over the top negative over-reactions (my favorite said the film make the person “shake with rage”), and the plausible became reality.
Unfortunately, with the success of WAR ROOM, we are also hearing the same refrain that we have heard before when a “surprise” Christian film does very well – paraphrased below.
- Hollywood cannot ignore the Christian market anymore
- Christian audience far more than a ‘niche’
- Christians are ready to make an impact at the movie theater
This could be encouraging, but I don’t believe it – not quite yet. Why not? We have heard this before. A couple times with films from the Kendricks, with God’s Not Dead, and Heaven is for Real.
I’ve been the first person to say I don’t want to see Christians blindly supporting Christian films – going just because someone said it was a “good Christian film.”
I pray the day is coming where more people are ready to look into various Christian films, and be ready to support those that grab their interest – REGARDLESS of who made the film. This is NOT about getting people away from the Kendricks, or Pureflix, but more about raising awareness of the other films available.
Here’s the other thing – support of these other films will HELP future films from the Kendricks and Pureflix and others. The Kendricks have made 5 films, and have done a great job building their network and support from film to film – but have only had 5 steps to work with. Pureflix have had a handful. The Erwin Brothers (see below) have their 3rd coming out. In each case, a limited number of efforts. If ALL CHRISTIAN FILMS worked together, then EVERY film that comes out can BENEFIT from the films before it… and HELP those after it.
When this happens, in our goal of 500 cities across the United States (just 10 per state), I believe the 3 bullets above will be undeniable. Christian filmmakers can invest in their films, and focus on their films, and these 500 networks of film supporters will drive an awareness of and excitement for Christian films that will not require the throwing away of millions of dollars on TV or print advertising, most of which is ignored or skipped entirely
This is no 30-second clip, but well worth the 20 minutes, by Jon Erwin. He talks about the power of film to share the Gospel, in a way that cannot be stopped. Specific to Christian films, he shares the tension between the groups who demand a bold message and those who want to be entertained – and the POWER that comes when a film does both, and triggers the casual film customers’ FOMO – FEAR OF MISSING OUT.
Erwin’s third film (previously made October Baby and Mom’s Night Out), WOODLAWN, comes out October 16, and will likely be the next one to widely capture the church audience like WAR ROOM.
But what is “normal” for Christian films? If we are going to trumpet how strong the market is for faith-based films, shouldn’t that strength show up in film after film, rather than just hit and miss?
Next to the Kendrick Brothers, the other source of Christian films that has really caught the attention of mainstream media is Pureflix, in particular regarding last year’s God’s Not Dead. While Do You Believe was in the top 10 for 3 weeks, the group’s other release, Faith of our Fathers, saw a quick drop off after its release around July 4th.
Other films have struggled to move beyond a few weeks in theaters, and most came nowhere near 1,000 theaters. The other couple films which have been groups into the “Christian” bucket and had success this year (opened late 2014) are Exodus and Unbroken, but their production and promotion budgets have far more in common with traditional blockbusters than most Christian films.
With one or two films – usually from the same couple production companies – breaking out from the pack each year, do we really have a growing audience for Christian films, or just a growing audience for those limited production companies?
Let’s see what we can do for the rest of the year. Let’s continue to share and support WAR ROOM – I expect a major drop-off for week 3 will be widely reported in the media, but it is still a major accomplishment and milestone.
The important things about milestones, is they mark what was accomplished as you MOVE FORWARD. Where do we move forward to?
Below are several films coming up still in 2015. (click name to visit the film website)
Films with *** are those I have seen personally. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about it – content, message, etc. I don’t promise to have every question, but I will respond as best I can.
Sept 11 90 Minutes in Heaven
Sept 18 Captive (Not for young children)
Oct. 6 Beyond the Farthest Star*** (Peoria – Oct 6)
Series of one night screenings – check here for full listing, or bring it to your area!
Oct 16 WOODLAWN***
Peoria, Illinois FB page (additional Peoria related page expected soon)
Yes, if this sounds familiar, it’s because Jon Erwin spoke about it here.
Dec. 25 YELLOW DAY
This is a unique film, that I have not seen, but I love the clips and story I have learned about it so far.
YOUR CHALLENGE (Should you choose to accept it)…
If you or your church brought a a group to WAR ROOM, I challenge you to review the films below, and pick 1, 2, or 3 (or more) to support with a group as well. Maybe one film triggers interest in your youth group, while another catches the eye of the young marrieds. And that is OK!
Remember, it is not about blindly supporting every film, but assuring the success or failure of a particular film is based on the level of interest, and not failure due primarily due to lack of awareness.
Want to see more Christian films play in YOUR town?
Move from pushing a film to building a ministry with a Regional Movie Ministry.
When Mom’s Night Out opened, the TOP MARKET was Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Yes, you read that right.)
Why? Because one church – Celebrate Church – saw the potential of Christian films to impact lives.
What impact can your church have?
What impact can YOU have?
Learn more about Regional Movie Ministries here!
Purchase the RMM booklet – for about the cost of a movie ticket – HERE.