Is Hollywood Hijacking Christianity To Make Money?

With Decreasing Profits Hollywood Needs A New Market

Over the past few years, Hollywood has been criticized for the increasingly apparent issue of a lack of creativity in their films. Specifically, production companies have spent much of the last decade pursuing remakes of classics such as Ghostbusters and opting to create sequels to vast franchises like Jurassic Park.

One exception to the modern Hollywood fare has been films centered on Christian content. With the recent successes of several Christian-centric films, it seems as though Hollywood is placing its faith in religious movies in order to boost their lack of sales outside of major blockbuster films.

Recently, the Christian film, I Can Only Imagine managed to rake in a massive $57 million box office, falling behind two highly-advertised and massively bankrolled films, Black Panther and Tomb Raider. While the sudden appearance of this film near the top of the box office was undoubtedly a surprise to some, Christian films have been a relatively quiet yet potent driving force in Hollywood for years. Mel Gibson’s epic The Passion of the Christ opened the film market to mainstream religious movies, paving the way for several other Christian films in its wake. These films include Noah, God’s Not Dead, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Due to their success, unique scripts, and box office potential, the films have consistently been able to attract A-list actors, directors, and paying consumers who flock to the movies to see the stories unfold.

The certainty and success of Christian films begs the question of why the films are so enticing. One element of the films’ popularity stems from the religious base that is indulged in the stories. Noah tells the story of the titular character with an emphasis on the profound religious implications of the story.

Another reason for the success of religious films is their potential for a wholesome nature, something that is lacking in modern movies that push the boundaries on vulgarity and violence. Just as the Christian bible is filled with stories of hope and redemption, the films based on these stories have the ability to inspire viewers, giving them something greater than entertainment. Christian films are also popular because of the versatility of the characters and message. While some might argue that Bruce Almighty was not overtly religious, it still espoused good morals and the benefits of faith.

Hollywood has been willing to support Christian films because they are highly desired and capable of producing accessible stories. Several films have appeared which challenge the viewer’s faith and show individuals facing a religious crisis. For example, Come Sunday is a film featuring a preacher who suffers from religious doubt and is put at odds with his community. This film is billed as being just as approachable for the faithful as it is for those who are not because it is about religion but it is not heavy-handed like The Passion of the Christ. This ability to challenge and discuss Christianity using film as a medium is not only attractive to the viewers, but it has been a gold mine for studio executives.

Based on the success of Christian films and their ability to garner huge returns at the box office, it is no wonder that the religious movies are being used to prop up ticket sales. Until Hollywood fixes the studio problem of a lack of creative vision and willingness to take risks, Christian films will be relied on to keep some interest in the theaters.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter