Here’s a great Christian Film update from Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith over at BeckSmithHollywood.com that we uncovered recently.
(EXCERPT) It’s been six years since “The Passion of the Christ” made history with its $611 million world-wide box office gross, its groundbreaking church-based promotional roll-out and its rendering of proof that there was an audience for a great Christian film. After that, there was a spurt of activity toward faith-themed movie and TV productions in Hollywood. So what’s happened?
Some things did indeed get made. “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” became a roaring success for Disney with a $745 million worldwide box office take, sequels and merchandising galore. New Line’s “The Nativity Story” took in $604 million.
Then there are the film and TV productions that don’t have Christian themes, per se, but do express faithful ideals and might not have gotten made – or made quite the same way – had it not been for the industry’s recognition that there is an underserved segment of the audience out there hungry for inspirational fare. “Amazing Grace,” the historical film about British abolitionist William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), counts church regular Patricia Heaton among its producers.
Tyler Perry’s comedies contain the family values he and his devoted audience, made up largely of African-American churchgoers, hold dear.
The Christian film niche market is busy, with dozens of active production companies bringing forth a stream of product. The most successful of those in terms of box office is Kirk Cameron’s “Fireproof,” which surprised everyone with a domestic gross of more than $33 million in 2008 – the highest of any independent film that year, followed by $28.5 million in DVD sales.
David Nixon, who was one of the producers of “Fireproof” as well as its popular predecessor, “Facing the Giants,” has “Letters to God” now in release.
More films of interest to Christians are on the way as well, including Roland Joffe’s “There Be Dragons,” for which a full-fledged church-based marketing campaign is already being planned for next year. Set at the time of the Spanish American War, it’s about a journalist who is investigating a candidate for sainthood, and discovers a personal tie to the prospective saint, as well as dark family secrets. Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley and Dougray Scott star in the film, which will show the Catholic Opus Dei organization in a different light than it was in “The Da Vinci Code.”
The true-life saga of a band of courageous Dutch WWII heroes will get a fresh look in “Return to the Hiding Place,” which is due to shoot in July in the Netherlands, Texas and Michigan. It revisits the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family, who hid Jews in their home until they could be smuggled out of the country via the underground –from the vantage point of one of the resistance fighters.
And in light of our Jesus vs. Jesus article recently about two Jesus films in development, I thought this was par-TIC-ularly fascinating that there’s yet a third. But with a studio name like Samuel Goldwyn behind them, I trust we’ll be seeing this one on the silver screen first.
(EXCERPT) And coming up on Easter for NEXT year is “The Resurrection of the Christ,” planned for shooting in Israel, Morocco and Europe for distribution by Samuel Goldwyn Films (which also brought us “Amazing Grace,” “Fireproof” and this year’s “To Save a Life,” by the way). Indie producer Billy McKay — whose credits include “Billy: The Early Years,” the Billy Graham biopic — told Variety that the movie “is as much about the key players as it is about Jesus.” Expect to see more about Pontius Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas and Judas. Plus, according to McKay, “We want to bring in the Gladiator dimension of the first century against the political milieu of the time.”
Check out the full article at BeckSmithHollywood.com!
That self-proclaimed heathen, Michelle Alexandria, cleaned up her act long enough to score an interview with Director-Producer David Nixon who, if you don’t know, is the Darryl Zanuck of Christian films. (Nice one, Acuff…using an obscure Classic Hollywood Producer to define an even more obscure modern producer…he’s not “obscure” dummy, just dead…well excuse me Mr. Film Education…I don’t think I like your tone! You wanna take this off-line? Yeah, buddy…let’s go! Scuffle, Scuffle, titty-twister, ow, ow, leggo, leggo…)
Ahem. Anyway, some good stuff here…
Several years ago, noted Hollywood Christian Crazy Man, Mel Gibson, opened Hollywood’s eyes be self-financing his movie The Passion of the Christ. He bypassed traditional marketing by giving the movie away to Churches to drive word of mouth. His unique marketing approach worked, Passion became a mega box office sensation. Every since then Hollywood has tried to duplicate its success and has spawned a small new genre called the “Christian Movie.” At the forefront of this new movement is Writer/Director David Nixon who had some success with his first two films and is now back with his latest effort Letters to God.
Letters to God is a sweet, if not a tad preachy story about a young boy who has cancer and decides to write letters to God. A down on his luck mailman reads the letters and it starts changing his life, eventually the letters find their way into other people’s hands and it has a profound impact on those around him. The movie is loosely based on a true story. It opens in limited release this Friday. I had a quick 10-minute conversation with the director earlier this week.
Michelle What drew you to this material?
David The story was really well written and I was really impressed with how the boy’s father was able to write this story after his son had passed away. It was very therapeutic for him.
Michelle How long did it take you to shoot?
David It took us 6 weeks to shoot the movie, but we’ve been working on it for over a year from the time we first got the screenplay to actually shooting it and editing it in post.
Michelle How do you respond to people like me who don’t want to be preached to?
David You’re the kind of person we’re making the movie for, all we want to do is try and tell a good story. We want to make movies with good messages. The movies we’re making are about how people deal with real life and how it connects to God. A story like this is all about how when people reach the end, it’s the one point in their lives where we find god and try to find hope.
Michelle Where do you think the Christian film industry is now?
David It’s a very small industry that’s about ready to explode. The technology has given us the ability to create a Hollywood look at a very low cost and now Churches are able. We’re looking at creating a faith-based film in 3D, we’re doing. We’re marketing our films directly to Church.
So there you go, folks. You heard it hear first. Maybe. There is currently a 3D Christian film in the works and we can only hope and pray and fast peanut M&Ms for a day that it doesn’t take “suck” to a whole new dimension.
The full article can be read HERE at TV.com.