On the 7th day, God may have created marketing. Ever since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ earned colossal box office revenues last year (more than US$400 million in theatres alone), movie makers have seen the light and are now directly marketing their “family values” films to – get this – churches! ABC News ran a story on this strange phenomenon, which has the potential to boost movie profits by as much as US$50 million – and that’s not counting DVD sales!
Disney is putting all their faith in the Christian audience to increase support for its upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the movie version of CS Lewis’ celebrated book. The Magic Kingdom’s studio is pushing the Jesus Christ/Lion analogy and have gone so far as to hire the same company that marketed Passion to work their miracles on Narnia. Churches across the US will even get a sneak peek at the flick before the Heathens do.
Hollywood calls it good business – I call it commercializing spirituality. Surely promoting the film via traditional routes will reach people of every persuasion and allow them to draw their own conclusions about whether they identify with the film’s themes, characters and message. Isn’t that what a good movie is supoosed make you do? Think, question, experience a different perspective? An endorsement from the pulpit is prone to have the opposite effect on me – kind of like giving away the ending before the opening titles roll.