Hollywood and the Christian Film
By Dan Blankenship
Okay, just in case you havenít heard. It seems that Hollywood is finally getting the picture; Americans will spend money on Christian-based films. Mel Gibsonís Passion of the Christ took in more than 370 million dollars worldwide. C.S. Lewisís book to film The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has taken in over 270 million to date. Veggie Tales movies, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and a host of other films considered Christian-based have made good money and generated a lot of discussion.
There are more and more articles, television interviews, and just plain talk that seems to show Hollywood executives are scratching their heads over America and the worldís interest in movies that portray the Christian faith in a positive light. I canít understand why this is news to them. In my own hometown, Lowell, IN (population: 8,000), there are at least eight major Christian churches with decent size congregations. It is much the same story throughout the USA, throughout the world.
For years, Hollywood was all too willing to make movies that not only used Godís name in vain over and over again, they were more than happy to openly poke fun at the Christian community. Some of the criticism was born out of genuine disenchantments brought about by some Christian leaders. In the 1980ís, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and a few other televangelists stumbled so hard that even the most forgiving of our flock understood how the world might be a bit skeptical of our faith and some of its most prominent leaders.
Unfortunately, Hollywood has kept the backlash alive for the past twenty years, continuously creating fictional Christian characters that resemble Ned Flanders, Homer Simpsonís ďlittle too religious crazyĒ neighbor. And when they werenít doing that, they were ignoring faith in movies altogether.
I remember a time when movie characters prayed before bedtime, prayed in times of tragedy, and were able to present their dialogue without offending every Christian in the audience by demanding the Good Lord condemn someone; only they donít say it so kindly.
But now it seems that the same crowd of Hollywood producers and directors, noticing that box office results have been on a constant downswing, has decided to reverse direction and embrace the spiritually charged movie genre.
I guess we should celebrate such a maneuver, but at the same time we should understand their motives for the change; it is ultimately the might dollar they are chasing after. Maybe in the course of financing, producing, and directing a few big budget Christian films, some of the Hollywood elite will come to know Jesus as the only audience that is truly important. Maybe they will discover a different kind of wealth, a wealth stored up in a place that will be more amazing than any movie set or blue screen can match.