Published June 12, 2014
NASHVILLE (BP) — Hollywood’s “year of the Bible movie” continues to drive sales at the box office in 2014, according to a study by LifeWay Research.
Four faith-based films have already earned more than $50 million each in ticket sales, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Those films – Noah, Heaven is for Real, Son of God, and God’s Not Dead – are among the top 20 grossing films of 2014.
And movie audiences may want more, a survey of 1,054 Americans from Nashville-based LifeWay Research revealed. Researchers found that half of Americans (56%) say they wish there were more movies with Christian values.
“Faith-based movies are no longer a niche,” Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said. “It’s smart economics – if you make a film that appeals to that audience, they will show up.”
Movies with an explicitly Christian message – like God’s Not Dead – have done especially well. The independent film was made for $2 million and has earned more than $59 million at the box office. That’s more than high-budget projects like Muppets Most Wanted or the critically acclaimed The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Kris Fuhr, founder of Moviegal Marketing, said Christian movie fans want films with a clear presentation of faith. That’s been true in the past for films like Fireproof and Courageous, as well as more recent movies like Son of God.
“When you have a movie where the title is almost a doctrinal statement – the audience will come out,” she said. “People want their faith to be affirmed.” Films with a more subtle faith message may not do as well, Fuhr said.
In the survey, LifeWay Research asked Americans to respond to the statement: “I wish there were more movies that reflected Christian values.” Those who go to church weekly are most likely to agree (91%). Those who never go to church (18%) are least likely to agree.
Self-identified born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians are more likely to agree (84%) than other Americans (45%.) Americans who live in the Midwest (62%) and South (63%) are also more interested in more Christian films than those in the Northeast (48%) or the West (44%).
Two-thirds of middle-aged and older Americans agree, including those 45 to 54 (63%), 55 to 64 (66%), and 65 and older (65%). Americans under 30 (43%) are least interested in more films with Christian values.
Two other major films with Christian themes, Left Behind and Exodus: Gods and Kings are due out later this year.
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