Skip to comments.Viewers with a viewpoint: Can Christians change the culture by going to the movies?
Posted on 10/28/2005 9:51:06 AM PDT by Caleb1411
Here is how Christians can change Hollywood, according to Jonathan Bock: "Go to more movies."
As a publicist, the founder of Grace Hill Media, Mr. Bock might be biased, but here is his reasoning, as explained in the book Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture (Baker): "If Christians would go as a demographic bloc to a movie on opening weekend, we could make that movie a hit. And the studios would make more films just like it."
The movie industry has been in the economic doldrums, with declining ticket sales and a smaller demographic slice going to theaters. But 43 percent of Americans are church-goers, many of whom find themselves mocked and their values undermined in the typical Hollywood fare. But when Christians found a movie they likedThe Passion of the Christthey made it the third-biggest moneymaker of all time, last year accounting for one-fifth of the movie industry's total profits.
Mr. Bock quotes Disney mogul Michael Eisner: "We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective." If this is true, Christians can use the power of the marketplace to influence the marketplace of ideas.
Christian pollster George Barna has engineered an arrangement with the movie studios and theater networks to test the concept. BarnaFilms Preview Night will select four worthy movies a year. Churches and other groups can buy blocks of at least 50 tickets. This will entitle them to a special showing the night before the film is officially released.
"The success of a film is largely determined by its opening weekend box-office revenues," Mr. Barna told WORLD. "By churches turning out in a bloc to witness a particular film, we begin to exercise the power of numbers, which can then influence the creative and business executives in Hollywood to develop movies that satisfy the entertainment interests of Christians."
The first movie featured with a Preview Night is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Mr. Barna admits that the Narnia movie, already being hyped to churches with the same marketing campaign used in The Passion, "will have virtually universal awareness whether we have a preview or not." But "future films that we expect to preview are likely to go unnoticed without a special effort to gain people's attention."
(Churches that would like to organize a preview of the Narnia movie so members can see it a day early, on Dec. 8 instead of Dec. 9, can go to BarnaPreview.com.)
But why concentrate on movies? Isn't our preoccupation with perpetually entertaining ourselves part of our cultural problem? Mr. Barna said that according to his research into the factors that influence people's lives today, "The upper tier is comprised of seven influencers: movies, music, television, the internet, books, family, and public policy. Together, those seven entities appear to have about 60 percent to 70 percent of the influence on what people think and do." In the very bottom tier of cultural influences, he said, is the local church.
Using Christians' buying power as a way to influence the culture has its skeptics. "The idea that Christians will go see films targeted at them has not been borne out by the marketplace," says film scholar Thom Parham, also writing in Behind the Screen. "Christians, it turns out, see the same films as everyone else."
That is part of the problem, says Conservative Films' David Stidham, who has devised a rating system to assess the moral content of a movie. If Christians would both refuse to go to morally questionable films and support the relatively few positive movies in droves, then they would make an impact.
But marshaling economic clout for cultural influence is a provocative tactic, beyond just the movie industry. Christians have tried boycotts, but those seldom work. The oppositerewarding Christian-friendly and morally sensitive companies by giving them our businessmight pay bigger cultural dividends.
Paying $12 when I can wait for the $3 DVD is a better deal. The popcorn is better too.
t'ain't the fault of christians that the movie biz sucks.
Oddly enough, most of the people going to the movies on Saturday ARE Christians, if the statistics on Christianity in the USA are correct.
Or does this article refer to some "special" Christians or something?
The Christian argument is a little narrow. All we really want is what most parents want; good, clean, fun films that don't embarrass us in front of our children or require we answer questions on mature issues later.
Hollywood knows but refuses to admit that family films, when done well and with respect, are box-office draws. "The Incredibles," "Chicken Run," "Finding Nemo," and "The Lion King" are all prime examples. Theatres are going to make a bigger profit on a family of four than a couple of two.
I'm only going to movies if they are good. I'm not going to go to a bad movie to make a political point.
If people need movies to reinforce their identity as a Christian they have bigger problems than Hollywood.
Besides, The Passion of the Christ was not the brainchild of mainstream Hollywood anyway.
Eisner may have said that he was in it for Disney to make money, but in Medved's book several years ago he specifically asked Hollywood producers if the financial successes of G and PG rated films would inspire them to make more such movies. The answer was "(*$^#! No!" and that they would never consider making money a priority over making propaganda to effect viewers (for the worse).
Why don't they just buy a theater and run continuous loops of "Crusader Rabbit" and "Gumby" shows? That should be satisfactory to everyone. Then whoever wanted to cast a Christian vote for the movie business could go to that theater and sit there for two hours.
My point is that Christians are already choosing movies. I'm pretty certain that the crowds I see at the megaplex on Saturday aren't all atheists. They don't look like Muslims, either. Looks to me like the same folks who are going to church on Sunday...well...some Sundays, anyhow.
That's why this plan will fail. If they choose good movies to support, then nobody will notice, since they'll be popular anyhow. If they choose bad movies with acceptable content, nobody will notice either. Or, if they do, they'll think, "Heck, I'm not going to a crummy movie like that," and ignore the group.
If America is overwhelmingly Christian, as I keep hearing, then it is Christians attending the movies. It's already there.
This sounds like a good idea but how is anyone to know what is a good movie? My wife, a big fan of Tom Hanks, found "Ladykillers" and looked forward to another excellent Hanks movie. She was assaulted by language she never expected in a Hanks movie and although she fought her way through that offensive part, the same language was present through the entire movie. Who would have expected that in a Tom Hanks film? If we found that after we had bought our ticket, it would still be counted as a box office success. Nobody counts the number of people who walk out.
"All we really want is what most parents want; good, clean, fun films that don't embarrass us in front of our children or require we answer questions on mature issues later.
Hollywood knows but refuses to admit that family films, when done well and with respect, are box-office draws. "The Incredibles," "Chicken Run," "Finding Nemo," and "The Lion King" are all prime examples."
Sixty years ago they made movies for "everyone." Then TV came along and the market shrank. So they began to make movies for that segment that stayed with them.
"The article I believe is targeting those who claim to be followers of Christ AND who practice a Biblical based morality system."
"If Christians would go as a demographic bloc to a movie on opening weekend, we could make that movie a hit. And the studios would make more films just like it"
Um, anyone seen "The Passion II?"