Yesterday’s LA Times reported that 20th Century Fox plans to produce a film based on a novel of Janette Oke’s, and has several other works in the pipeline. I find it heartening–and illustrative–to read that Fox movies will be targeting “evangelical Christians.” See www.foxfaith.com.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“If this is something Fox is doing only to exploit the audience � or if it’s something they don’t believe in or are doing cynically � then there could be problems,” said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo, a box-office reporting service. “There isn’t a huge turnout for these films unless they speak to what Christianity is all about. People want a guide to life and Hollywood has ignored that by saying nothing or dwelling on vices.”
Over the last four years, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has quietly built a network to mobilize evangelical Christian moviegoers in an era of diminishing box-office returns. The network includes 90,000 congregations and a database of more than 14 million mainly evangelical households.
FoxFaith films, to be based on Christian bestsellers, will have small budgets of less than $5 million each, compared with the $60-million average. The movies each will be backed by $5-million marketing campaigns. Although that is skimpy compared with the $36 million Hollywood spends to market the average movie, the budget is significant for targeting a niche audience, especially one as fervent as many evangelical Christians.
For instance, “The Passion” grossed $612 million worldwide, thanks in part to its appeal to Christians. Another spiritual odyssey, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” took in $745 million globally. Most recently, Christians came out for this summer’s controversial “The Da Vinci Code,” which has brought in $754 million worldwide.
Other studios also are beginning to dip an oar into Christian waters. New Line Cinema’s “The Nativity Story,” scheduled to be released in December, tells the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter to give birth to Jesus. Legendary Pictures, which has a multi-film deal with Warner Bros., is planning to make a movie version of John Milton’s epic 17th century poem about the fall of man, “Paradise Lost.
“Fox seems to be getting a warm reception from the Christian community. “It is extremely satisfying to be taken seriously,” said Nancy Neutzling, vice president of marketing for Word Distribution, FoxFaith’s distributor to Christian retailers. “It’s like we have arrived.”
Angie here again: I love that distinction pointed out in the quote from Brandon Gray–no matter how subtle or overt the Christian message, these movies–as well as Christian novels–function as a guide to life. What makes a novel Christian? It is more than the author’s world view, though that often comes into play. I, a Christian writer, am certainly capable of writing erotica, but I certainly wouldn’t call it “Christian.” In the strictest sense, something is “Christian” if it reflects Christ, and that is what I want my novels to do.
I’m delighted that Fox Faith has determined to make movies that do the same thing.