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?"
"That would force Hollywood to stop producing all this gratuitous sex, anti-Christian, pro-homosexual, bloody murder, vile language dung they pass off as 'movies'. "
Goodness, me! You must be going to different movies than I've been seeing. How about giving me a list of the last three movies you've been to see in a theater?
I suspect you've already stopped going to the movies. But, I'm willing to listen if you're willing to give me that list.
Gibson's Passion was one of the biggest blockbusters in history and nothing followed.
Hollywood sets the tone and promotes its ideology.
In 1992, they took a total box office flop called The Crying Game and turned it into a modest success by nominating it for six Oscars and relentlessly marketing it as a nominated, must-see film. It was poorly-scripted, boring sodomy propaganda with a "secret twist" and would have died a deserved box office death if not for a promotional budget several times its filming cost.
In 1993 Philadelphia was another propaganda movie with all the stops pulled out on its marketing as an Oscar-nominated film.
Hollywood is more than capable of losing money in order to artificially create an audience for a film that wouldn't normally succeed.
In 1999 it was Boys Don't Cry.
The latest push will be for Brokeback Mountain.
You're correct. There are definitely films each year with a homosexual theme. Sometimes they win awards. Along with them, however, there are hundreds of other films with other themes.
Seems to me that there are movies to fit just about every taste and preference out there. Some are great. Some are OK. Some are lousy.
What I do is have a look at the reviews if I feel like taking in a movie. There, I can find out what the subject matter of the film is, who made it, and get a general idea of what sort of film it is. Then...after looking at the review section of the paper, my wife and I decide together which movie we're going to see.
Then we decide which of the dozen multi-screen theaters to see it in. I favor the ones with stadium seating and good hot dogs at the snack bar. My wife really prefers smaller theaters. We compromise and go to both.
We're usually pretty happy with our choice of movie. We've done our research, found a film that looks like something we'll enjoy, and picked a good time for us to go.
I recommend that process to everyone. That way, you won't be suprised when "Bitches in Heat" doesn't turn out to be a film about puppies.
"I haven't been to the movies in probably 8 or 9 years but my daughter will be home from college these weekend and we're going to see Dreamer. Looks like a good movie that won't embarrass us."
I do not care whether the image making enterprises in Hollywood or elsewhere thrive or shrivel, or see value in making some special effort to exert "Christian Influence" on them, per se. If they fail to produce material of interest and value to me, they can seek customers elsewhere.
90+% of cinematic products are forgettable, and not even amusing in the initial viewing, so the main value of "teaser ads" is getting an immediate sense of which titles are obviously "must miss" productions. Maybe one out of three or four of the "highly recommended by usually reliable reviewers" are satisfactory to some degree. I prefer to wait until an offering has been in circulation for a few years, and then select some of the survivors that were recommended by reviewers with compatible tastes, who also offered some discussion explaining what value, if any, they obtained by their viewing time investment.
So in the last five years, I've considered 'well spent' the time invested in viewing and discussing the Lord of the Ring series, Mel Gibson's "Passion", Robert Duvall's "Tender Mercies" and "The Apostle", the original "Matrix", "Thirteenth Floor", and "Dark City. Several other films were modestly interesting, but still were "dry holes" as worthwhile investments of time.
Well, I love horses so it should be enjoyable. And thanks. Nice we can agree on some things.
Have a great weekend.
This is a false premise. Only one of the top 20 all time grossing movies has an R rating, and that one was The Passion of the Christ. In response Hollywood creates a vastly disproportionate percentage of R rated movies.
Tom Hanks was in Saving Private Ryan and the language was "realistic", I suppose.
hollywood produces either rehashed remakes - each one worse than it's predecessor, or trash. they use special effects to make up for lousy scripts, acting, etc.. and think that people won't see through it all.
if they made a movie worth seeing, people would go see it. the market reflects it's contents - sluggish and junky.
Bring back the Legion of Decency.
I understand that most whorehouses don't have chapels, either.
Well, you can go to the arthouse and see what they think is worthy. Acting, directions, writing. etc. are excellent, but most of it shows a worldview very different from mine.
I understand that most whorehouses don't have chapels, either.
These films - The Crying Game (1992), Philadelphia (1993), Secrets And Lies (1996), The Cider House Rules (1999), Far From Heaven (2002) The Hours (2002), Million Dollar Baby (2004), etc. - are sleekly advertised and their content is carefully concealed in ads.
There are certain message films where you see the trailer or the ad in the paper and you understand the subject matter and themes straightforwardly: Schindler's List or I Am Sam for example.
Then there are others which are not revealed despite reams of hype until customers are sitting in the theatre.
How many moviegoers attending The Crying Game knew they were in for a two hour spiel about sodomy? It was advertised as a film about IRA intrigue.
How many moviegoers knew that Million Dollar Baby was shilling for euthanasia? It was pitched as an has-been coach taking a last shot at redemption with a female boxer.
Or that The Cider House Rules was a screed for abortion? It was pitched as a kindly old doctor and his orphan charges.
Or that Secrets and Lies and Far From Heaven were about how horrible white people supposedly are?
or that The Hours and Far From Heaven were about how cruel the heterosexual world supposedly is?
Hollywood will spend a ton of money to promote its agenda while concealing the actual content of the film until they've taken people's money.
I thought we were by not going.
I suppose you're right. I've never found any problem determining the content of a film ahead of time, though. Also, I've seen most of the movies you mentioned, and don't remember folks walking out of them, either. If they were duped, you'd think they'd leave at some point.
In the same years all of those films were distributed, there were also dozens and dozens of other films distributed. My point is that people should choose the films they see carefully. After all, it costs a pretty penny to take your family to a film, what with the cost of tickets, plus any goodies from the concession.
Just on economic terms, it's worth making sure you'll enjoy the movie, both on an entertainment and a moral basis, don't you think?
That's why I don't choose films from ads. I choose them after reading about them. These days, that's pretty easy, since there are dozens of sites reviewing films. I like IMDB.com.
Do you think that the proprietors of a cathouse are going to make Christian films? If it has a priests in it, it will be a character depicted as one of their regular customers. The hedonism that you see on display is an accurate reflection of their worldview. That said, they in their ordinary life, they are remarkably like your local bank vice-president. So are most of the guys who make porn films.
Understood. Good point.
I guess I figured maybe they didn't care about anything but the almighty dollar.
There are plenty of groups that point out content in films. They just don't have the clout they used to. The ratings are there for a reason folks...
'The Crying Game' and 'Secrets and Lies' weren't Hollywood films. Neither was Boys Don't Cry really...not a Studio film certainly. But sometimes you can't give away what a film is about in previews without spoilers. I obviously question the designation of Million Dollar Baby as propaganda for euthenasia. It was rather ambiguous on that score. And 'Far From Heaven' was more about 1950s movies then anything else...just sytematically inverting their cliches...all it really did of course was create new ones.
For every openly progay film, there are dozens that introduce a gay character in a minor part. The irony is that most of these characters are caricatures. But the whole point is to advance the claim that this disease is harmless.
It is interesting that the Legion of Decency was dropped after Vatican II--and the ascendency of the Lavender Mafia.
Gays have complained about the caricatures in the past. Remember The Silence of the Lambs with its gay serial killer? What's good for the goose is good for the gander...
Very few production companies nowadays have no ties to Hollywood.
Well critics are going to promote what they like regardless. There's so many of them that there's plenty to balance it out. And with the Internet even more so. And the ties to Hollywood are in distribution for sure. It's virtually impossible for an indie distributor it seems. They are all big studio based. P.S. 'Boys Don't Cry' was miserable! A gross violator of the 'These horrible events happened and now we will reenac them for you with no context or insight' school of filmmaking along with 'Monster'.
I saw a movie recently that had no sex,violence and/or profanity. And it was a great movie.
Did anyone see Dear Frankie It wasn't out long but it was a great movie.
I just watched the trailer. Yikes. "There are some lies we have to tell"?? It's ridden with propaganda.