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Praise The Lord and Pass the Almond Joy

Box Office
by Jim Amos
April 8, 2014 7:18 PM
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This week I'll look at 2014 being The Year of The Bible at the box office as no fewer than five titles vie for the faith based audience.  First up is Fox's "Son of God" which is basically a re-editing of the 2013 History Channel mini-series "The Bible".  Upon first glance you may say, hey everyone saw this on television.  The ratings were indeed outstanding as it averaged 11.4 million viewers during its five week run and it also became the best selling miniseries of all time on DVD.   Now the producers have gone in and re-edited the miniseries,  whittling it down to two hours and have inserted previously unseen footage.  The fact it was on free TV seems to be mattering little to a religious audience as theatres by the hundreds are enjoying robust pre-sales from Christian groups and churches.  A Cinemark theatre in Cincinnati has sold out all of their thirteen, yes 13,  screens on pre-opening Thursday night to the Crossroads Church in that city.  Mega-church pastor Rick Warren is doing the same in eight different theatres in Orange County California.  Some pastors will even be showing the film in Spanish and Korean.

Then we move on to March 21 for Freestyle's "God's Not Dead" with Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain.  Then flip the calendar one week to March​ 28 with the Biblical epic "Noah" starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Sir Anthony Hopkins and to give the movie further street cred is that the director is award winner Darren Aronofsky  of "Black Swan" fame.  Initial word was that Aronofsky was focusing away from the Biblical slant of the film but has since recut the movie to attempt to remain faithful for religious moviegoers.

Look for much of the same Easter weekend when Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly and Margo Martindale ("August: Osage County") star in "Heaven is For Real" which is produced by, among others, Joe Roth and Pastor T. D. Jakes.  This film also has a notable director, in Randall Wallace, who helmed such movies as "We Were Soldiers" and "The Man in the Iron Mask".

And finally as we head to Christmas, Fox brings us director Ridley Scott's epic "Exodus" as Moses (this time in the form of Christian Bale) leads the Israelites out of Egypt.  "Exodus" also stars Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver.

Is 2014 the year we left behind recent faith based films that were painfully short on budget, production value and marketing?  All of these 2014 films will rely heavily on church group/grass roots marketing and word-of-mouth as shown by the "Son of God" presales and that aspect of a religious film's marketing campaign is still vital to the success of any film of this genre but all of the above titles will also be accompanied by a comprehensive studio marketing plan much like a Hollywood tent pole.​​​​ ​ It should be interesting to watch how each of these four films perform as the Year of the Bible progresses.

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