The Good News From Hollywood

The Good News From Hollywood

noah-posterThe movie Noah opens tomorrow (Mar. 28) and if the box office comes anywhere close to the heat it has already generated, the film has an excellent shot at hitting #1 in this weekend’s box office receipts.

It has been attacked by evangelist Ray Comfort. Yet, it has also been endorsed by filmmaker and media consultant Phil Cooke, who I interviewed last year for his take on Hollywood’s turn to biblical epics.

Cooke participated in a panel discussion with Jerry Johnson, CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and John Snowden—biblical consultant on the movie—at NRB’s recent convention.

That led to Paramount Pictures clarifying in its marketing materials that the film is a dramatization of the major themes, not a line-by-line retelling of scripture.

Missing the Point

I don’t discount the seriousness of some objections to Noah. However, Christians debating whether Noah and whether it is scripturally sound or a soapbox for environmentalism should hit the pause button.

Catch a breath and appreciate the positive developments in Movieland. The Mar. 31 issue of Time magazine featured a story noting that portraying biblical themes “hasn’t been this bustling for half a century.”

Son of God PosterIndeed, so many epics are emerging that earlier this year a web site recently declared 2014 “The Year of the Bible” in Hollywood. That didn’t come from a Christian magazine or web site, but the Daily Beast.

After writing last year about the impact The Bible mini-series had made on the film industry, I am delighted to see the current wave.

Just a month ago the mini-series spinoff, Son of God, grossed nearly $26 million its opening weekend. That ranked it just behind Liam Neeson’s thriller, Non-Stop. In addition, Son of God will likely more than double opening weekend receipts before millions watch the DVD.

An Emerging Roster

While it didn’t register the blockbuster numbers of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Son of God is only one of many biblically-oriented films emerging this year.

Last week saw the debut of God’s Not Dead, the story of a college freshmen forced to defend his faith amid attacks by a philosophy professor (sounds realistic to me.)

HeavenisforrealtheaterposterWith a cast featuring such actors as Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A.R. White and Dean Cain, this is no low-budget production.

Mid-April will see the release of Heaven is For Real, the saga of a young boy who relates experiences of the afterlife following his near-fatal illness. With sales of the book nearing 10 million copies, the film will propel familiarity with this story well beyond reader levels.

Among other faith-based projects on tap are a movie on Cain and Abel directed by Will Smith, another on Pontius Pilate starring Brad Pitt, two productions about the Rapture and director Ridley Scott’s December release, Exodus.

Other Good News

There is other good news from the film capital, particularly a recent story I read with the headline: “Why Hollywood is Dumping Explicit Sex Scenes.”

The story concerned a report by web-based publication The Independent. It detailed research commissioned by Warner Brothers that revealed women tend to decide couples’ viewing choices. And polls show females are uneasy with scenes they consider too explicit, exploitative or inappropriate.

Commenting on these findings, Movieguide’s David Outten commented that the organization’s annual reports for the past 20 years have shown explicit sex is a death knell for general audiences.

“If you have a funny story of light romance, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding or The Runaway Bride, that will reach a much wider audience,” Outten says. “Thus, it makes really good business sense to leave out explicit sex.”

Good to see this message sinking in alongside the rise of biblically-oriented movies.


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