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Moviegoers want more faith-based films, LifeWay study showscomment (0)

June 12, 2014

Moviegoers want more faith-based films, LifeWay study shows

Hollywood’s “year of the Bible movie” continues to drive sales at the box office in 2014, according to a study by LifeWay Research.

Four faith-based films have already earned more than $50 million each in ticket sales, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Those films — “Noah,” “Heaven is for Real,” “Son of God” and “God’s Not Dead” — are among the top 20 grossing films of 2014 even while causing debate within the Christian community as to some of the storylines.

And movie audiences may want more, a survey of 1,054 Americans from Nashville-based LifeWay Research revealed. Researchers found that more than half of Americans (56 percent) say they wish there were more movies with Christian values.

‘Smart economics’

“Faith-based movies are no longer a niche,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “It’s smart economics — if you make a film that appeals to that audience, they will show up.”

Alabama’s Erwin Brothers filmmakers agree movies with Christian values are gaining in popularity. The brothers’ most recent release, “Moms’ Night Out,” is still in theaters and ranked third in ticket sales when it opened Mother’s Day weekend. The movie is described as a laugh-out-loud comedy that is both family-friendly and faith-friendly.

The Erwin Brothers’ first feature-length film, “October Baby,” released in 2012 and chronicled a young woman’s search for the truth about her past. Along the way she discovers that her mother tried to have her aborted before placing her for an adoption.

Andy Erwin said he’s been encouraged by the opportunities Hollywood has given to faith-friendly communities of late and suggests that people in the faith community use their movie ticket as their vote for more films.

“Hollywood is listening, and the best way to see more movies that are faith-friendly is to buy a ticket and see the film,” he said.

 “When we set out to make ‘Moms’ Night Out’ the first thing we were looking for was for it to be funny, but from there we made a point to touch on values we feel are important.”

Movies with an explicitly Christian message — like “God’s Not Dead” — have done especially well. The independent film was made for $2 million and has earned more than $59 million at the box office. That’s more than high-budget projects like “Muppets Most Wanted” or the critically acclaimed “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Kris Fuhr, founder of Moviegal Marketing, said Christian movie fans want films with a clear presentation of faith. That’s been true in the past for films like “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” as well as more recent movies like “Son of God.”

“When you have a movie where the title is almost a doctrinal statement — the audience will come out,” Fuhr said. “People want their faith to be affirmed.” Films with a more subtle faith message may not do as well, she said.

In the survey, LifeWay Research asked Americans to respond to the statement: “I wish there were more movies that reflected Christian values.” Those who go to church weekly are most likely to agree (91 percent). Those who never go to church (18 percent) are least likely to agree.

Self-identified born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians are more likely to agree (84 percent) than other Americans (45 percent). Americans who live in the Midwest (62 percent) and South (63 percent) also are more interested in more Christian films than those in the Northeast (48 percent) or the West (44 percent).

Two-thirds of middle-aged and older Americans agree, including those 45 to 54 (63 percent), 55 to 64 (66 percent) and 65 and older (65 percent). Americans under 30 (43 percent) are least interested in more films with Christian values.

Two other major films with Christian themes, “Left Behind” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” are due out later in 2014.

The online survey of adult Americans was conducted March 25, 2013. The completed sample is 1,054 surveys.


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