Hollywood loves money, and the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. But faith-based films typically do extremely well at the box office and they don’t seem to care. It doesn’t add up. What does Hollywood love more than money? Mockery, perversity, and rebellion perhaps?
If you haven’t seen the new movie, I Can Only Imagine based on the #1 song by Christian band MercyMe, make sure you bring enough Kleenex. It’s a true story of forgiveness and redemption, and one memorable line from the movie’s main character is:
“My dad was a monster, and I saw God transform him.”
It took Bart Millard ten minutes to write the song “I Can Only Imagine,” but as Amy Grant said at the time, “It didn’t take you ten minutes, Bart; it took a lifetime.”
Many people can relate to life’s ups and downs; in some cases, abuse; hurts, healing, fears and failures, broken hearts, and finding true joy and peace in God.
It shouldn’t surprise us when Christian-themed movies do well at the box office.
The most obvious example was the 2004 blockbuster by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ. Starring Jim Caviezel, it holds the record for Christian films after bringing in nearly $84 million its first weekend! It grossed over $611 million worldwide and cost $30 million to produce.
The Christian blockbuster is the third highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and the #3 film of 2004.
In comparison, the #2 film from the same year was Spider-Man 2 which only took in a few million more than The Passion of the Christ (in the U.S.) but, get this: Spider Man 2 cost a whopping $200 million!
I don’t have time to get into the massive marketing budgets Hollywood feature films often blow through, but it’s pretty clear many Christian films are money-makers. Why do you think this is?
A lot of people are tired of the trashy, godless, profane products Hollywood typically puts out. Numbers indicate there’s an enormous audience across the country desperate for clean, positive, redemptive, God-centered entertainment.
Let’s look at three movies released on the exact same day just weeks ago: I Can Only Imagine has already raked in over $70 million despite costing only $7 million to make. (Did you get that?)
The movie is the fourth-biggest opening for a faith-based film, and it only debuted in limited cities, playing on only 1,600 screens. I Can Only Imagine came in third among movies with ten times the budget; movies playing in twice the number of theaters.
Critics raved about the openly gay-themed coming-of-age movie, Love, Simon, which has only made $37 million and cost $17 million to produce.
Thirdly, also released March 16 was Warner Brothers’ Tomb Raider which has grossed about $55 million at the box office, but cost $94 million to make!
Finally, the high-budget Hollywood favorite, A Wrinkle In Time, based on the book, practically bombed in theaters. It had star power and marketing, but producers replaced Christian themes that were in the book and put New Age, politically-correct ideology in the movie.
I agree with author and blogger Matt Walsh, who suggests Hollywood is choosing to leave lots of money on the table because unfortunately, they seem to hate Christians more than they love profits.
“A lot of people …have no interest in the raunchy stuff. And practically no one wants to watch a gay romance, no matter how much Hollywood insists… Faith is the driving force in the lives of millions… and people like stories they find relatable.”
Spiritual warfare is escalating, sin is celebrated, and darkness seems to be increasing. These are just signs of the times, but maybe a few of Hollywood’s’ out-of-touch decision makers will get the message from the success of Christian films at the box office. For now however, we can only hope for more inspiring, family-friendly content rather than all the soul pollution.