But the two movies are not the only ones establishing Christian themed films, and the people who see them, as a major Hollywood force to be reckoned with. Last month, Son of God surpassed box office expectations. Heaven is for Real, a film based on the bestselling book, will soon be released, and expectations are high.
“It feels like we’re in a special moment that has never happened before in Hollywood where you have this many faith-based movies being released by not just independent filmmakers but now the big studios,” said Paul Lauer, founder and CEO of Motive Entertainment, the leading film marketing firm for reaching Christian audiences. “This Holy Week there will be four major feature films in theaters at the same time and that’s unprecedented.”
Lauer launched his firm a little over a decade ago with a plan to focus on targeting underserved religious audiences, unchartered territory at the time. Months after opening he was introduced to Mel Gibson who told him about a faith-inspired film he wanted to release. That film became the mega-hit Passion of the Christ. Motive Entertainment led the groundbreaking grassroots marketing campaign targeting Christians through churches and other non-traditional marketing venues that helped make Passion of the Christ, an independent film, one of the most successful films of all time.
But even after its success, films about faith did not become ubiquitous the way many genres do after one film succeeds. According to Scott A. Shuford, founder of FrontGate Media, a firm specializing in reaching Christian audiences online, Hollywood was slow to recognize the power and scope of Christian consumers. “I think at first Hollywood business people got confused between a religion and a market.” Shuford, whose firm was one of those involved in the marketing ofNoah, went on to explain that while Hollywood has been serving African Americans and Latinos as distinct markets with distinct interests, they struggled to see Christians the same way and as a result didn’t invest resources in that community. As such, “The Passion of the Christ was initially treated as a fluke.”
Source: The Daily Beast | Keli Goff