Variety Magazine hosted a high-powered summit this past Thursday in LA which, surprisingly, was all about Family Entertainment and Faith-based films and programming. Of course, we at W4F have our fingers pressed firmly against the industry pulse (not usually in a strangulation way) so we knew about this event, I dunno, two to three months…is that the right word? ’Months’? Hold on. No, the word I’m looking for is ‘days’…yes we knew about this event days before it took place. Possibly hours.
But it was a big one. Lots of big wigs in attendance and presenting:
Dick Rolfe, Co-Founder & CEO, The Dove Foundation
Ben Howard, Co-Founder, Provident Films
Simon Swart, EVP & GM, Fox Home Entertainment
Darren Melameth, VP, Crown Media Family Networks(Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie Channel)
Brad Siegel, Vice Chairman, GMC TV
Dale Ardizzone, COO, The Inspiration Networks
Richard Ingber, President, Worldwide Marketing, Alcon Entertainment
Greg Liberman, President & CEO, Spark Networks
Rio Cyrus, SVP, Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Arleen Lopez, Project Manager, Faith Marketing (Gril in Progress), Pantelion Films
Brian Bird, Partner, Believe Pictures
John Shepherd, President, Mpower Pictures
Ted Baehr, Founder and Publisher, Movieguide
Michael Van Dyck, Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Rich Peluso, VP, Affirm Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Jon Erwin, Director, October Baby
Kenn Viselmann, Founder, Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company & Producer/Creator, The Oogieloves
Charlie Ebersol, Co-Founder, The Hochberg Ebersol Company (THE Company)/Executive Producer, The Moment on USA Network
James Ackerman, President & CEO, The Documentary Channel
Brian Wells, Co-Founder, Flashlight Entertainment
Ralph Winter, Producer, X-Men:Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand
Corbin Bernsen, Actor/Producer (Psych, The Big Year)
Dean Batali, Producer & Writer, That 70′s Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chonda Pierce’s This Ain’t Prettyville)
Lori McCreary, Producer (Invictus, The Magic of Belle Island)
Jason Carbone, Executive Producer (Tia and Tamera, Beverly’s Full House)
I know, right? How did we not hear about this? And with all those big brains in the same room, what did they do? Discuss a moratorium on End-times movies? Plan an intervention on Mel Gibson? Watch Sherwood Pictures and Tyler Perry print their own money? Did they even settle whether the wafer or the bread loaf was the proper sacremental depiction on film?
Nope. None of that.
Here’s some things they did discuss, from Variety…
[Mark] Burnett enthusiastically spoke of his passion for ["The Bible"] project, a 10-hour epic to air on cabler History next spring. He echoed the sentiment of many panelists at the daylong gathering at the Sofitel Hotel in emphasizing the huge, often untapped potential of faith-based productions.
However, Burnett also emphasized that bringing “Bible” to the screen has transcended business concerns for his company. His wife, thesp Roma Downey, has been on location in Morocco for weeks working as a producer and thesp on the project.
“I couldn’t give a shit about the business model,” Burnett said. “This was about love and faith.”
Ahem, Mr. Burnett. Puh-LEASE! We do not use such vulgar words in Christian circles such as “Business Model”. In fact, most Christian filmmakers don’t give a shipoopi about the business side of production. Profits? Pssht? Marketing costs? Ha! Investors? Please! More like Donors! Awesome Academy award winning actors? Naw, we got my Aunt Sally who teaches 2nd Grade Sunday school. And her co-star is this dude who was awesome in, like, this 1970 sitcom. And we’re shooting on MiniDV with a script my Dentist wrote. Why isn’t anyone buying my DVD?
End Scene. End Rant.
Anyway, back to the Family Faith-based Summity shmorgasbord thingie. John Kennedy from Beliefnet actually got to attend and had a great wrap-up here.
Dick Rolfe distributed the Dove Foundation’s 2012 Film Profitability Study which examined film box office results from 2005 through 2009. The report found that of the 1000 most-widely-distributed film during that time frame, 376 (38%) were rated R, 412 (41%) were PG-13, 178 (18%) were PG and only 34 (3%) were rated G. During the same period, G-rated movies averaged profits of 108.5 million dollars with PG films averaging 65.5 million in plus-side revenues. PG-13 film, meanwhile, averaged 59.7 million in profits. Bringing up the rear were R-rated movies with average profits of about 12.7 million.
So, the study points out, Hollywood released 11 times more R-rated movies than G-rated movies from 2005 through 2009 — yet the averaged G-rated film produced over eight times the profit of its R-rated counterpart. As the report notes, the market for G-rated fare seems far from saturated.
The Dove Foundation, as you may know, also awards its seal of approval to films that support positive human values. The report notes that, during the period covered, Dove-approved films were 2.5 times more profitable as film that failed to meet it human values criteria. Dove-approved PG films were 2.8 times more profitable than other PG films. Dove-approved PG-13 films, meanwhile, were 1 3/4 times as profitable as non Dove-approved films with the same rating.
The bottom line appears to be that audiences prefer movies that support traditional values (i.e. faith, family, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude) to those that ignore them or even treat them with ridicule and contempt.
Kennedy gives a good synopsis of who spoke to what points, we only hope he’ll come back and share some of the golden mcnuggets of wisdom that were shared along the way.