Posts Tagged ‘Kirk Cameron’

In Hollywood, where doth my help come from?

“Christian Movie.” It’s a phrase that has plagued both Hollywood and the Church for decades because the two sides don’t really talk, even if there was the awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

Separate: The two don’t have an inkling enough knowledge of the other to understand what the market demands. Together: Former “celebs” who get real with Christ are considered sellouts because the first that happens is TBN fawns all over them and gets them preaching.

So, what does it mean to be a “Christian Movie”? Is it focus on the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” because honestly, if you have seen the movie (aside from the meaning, people), it really is not the greatest. Not even Top 10.

The one that changed Christian film making was not “The Omega Code,” which looked like the IRS came and repossessed the movie set halfway into the film. No, it was “The Passion of the Christ.

Real. Violent. Authentic. Visceral.

And an A-list celeb created it, without the aforementioned megalomaniac drool from Paul and Jan. Then, of course, that A-list celeb went off the deep end and offending every Jew, black person and woman on the face of God’s planet. So much for his clout. Next?

Sure, Kirk Cameron made a nice swim through a resurrection (of his career) but that was short-lived, and short-marketed. “Fireproof” was nice, really nice, but it lacked the big Hollywood backing.

No one was really 'running' from the Church to catch this one

Recently, Disney saw a glimmer of hope in this once forgotten Christian market, and put out a movie that had all the makings of the next great “Christian Movie.” To use the introduction from a riveting BrandWeek article:

On the face of it, Disney’s feel-good drama Secretariat seemed to have all the makings of a hit with the God-fearing crowd: Its writer and director are devout Christians, it opens with a lengthy Bible quote, it uses an earnest spiritual tune at a key emotional moment and it’s uplifting. Then there was a specific marketing campaign to the faith-based audience, spearheaded by filmmaker Randall Wallace, who has legitimate street cred in those circles.

Quick show of hands for all the Christ followers who saw this flick? Yeah, me neither.

This is a movie that supposed to be the feel-good hit of the summer and Hollywood was counting on the Church. Only, it wasn’t marketed to the Church, so who knew?

Therein lies the rub.

The Church either goes one way or the other when it comes to movie selections:

  1. We are either incognito at Rated-R flicks – Groucho Marx glasses and all – and only be seen watching Pixar movies with the kids.
  2. Or, we go see any horror or drama made with a staunch “So what” to anyone in the Church that has an issue with your film-viewing pleasures.

Then there are those in-between who really want to see God show up in films outside of anything dealing with the crucifixion, resurrection or anything starring Charlton Heston.

Why? According to this story, Christians aren’t as naive and sheepish as Hollywood thinks:

Any movie that has a happy ending or a hopeful message gets peddled to Christian leaders and faith-based media. That crowd may be conservative, but they’re not dumb, said entertainment industry veteran and marketing consultant Mark Joseph.

“The traditionalist audience is far more savvy, post-‘Passion,’ and is tired of being told that ‘Polar Express’ or ‘Rocky VI’ are actually allegories about Christ,” said Joseph, also a film producer who’s worked on The Passion of the Christ and other marketing campaigns. “This group is suspicious of Hollywood.”

Not only is this group “suspicious” of Hollywood; they are also lazy to demand otherwise from it.

Yes, I paid good money to see “Inception”, “Iron Man 2” and “Robin Hood” this summer. And why? Because I am a child of God that can see a movie that doesn’t exalt Christ and still find pleasure in it. Sure, I wish it mentioned, alluded to or flat-out praised him, but if it doesn’t, I’ll go for a gripping storyline and stimulating writing any day.

And no, I didn’t pay a dime to see anything else from TBN studios, the “Veggie Tales” movie or “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.” Why? Just because the American Family Association gives it two crosses up doesn’t mean it’s good; it just means it’s sanctified.

Jesus made the ministrel of music. We should own it.

Amen!

It’s the same old problem that has plagued Christian music and fashion. We demand quality too.

When the world had old-school hip hop, the Church had D.C. Talk. (Sure, later came DII, SFC, PID and Freedom of Soul… but toby Mac and the guys pretty screwed that up for the rest of them). When the world had friendship pins, Swatch watches and Coca-Cola shirts, we had cheaply made Garanimals with an icthtus emblazoned on the crest.

Sigh.

In short, just because you have a fish on your business card, doesn’t guarantee me doing business with you. It only means I am leery of you because you expect a hand-out or a hand-up. We need to earn our keep in Hollywood, and not be afraid of the backlash just because we admit we love Jesus in public circles.

It’s happened with music (e.g. Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder, anything alternative that has made the crossover, and on and on and on). Now, it’s time to stop trying to remake the Passion and just get passionate about evangelism with a great movie.

We need to vote with our dollars, in addition to our prayers. (And please, we do NOT do that).

So my definition of “Christian Movie”? It’s a great movie that happens to talk about Christ and sticks to the meaning of his message.

You know, rather than a lukewarm message of love and hate, right and wrong with a crappy script, a couple of has-been actors and something that goes straight to DVD cloaked as a movie.

Think about it people. When we demand more, we will get more. Peace.

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It all began with “The Passion of the Christ,” I suppose. And thank God it did.

Then, from the ashes of cutting floors everywhere sprouted wonderful films “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof” that did something most Christian movies didn’t – made Hollywood stand up and take notice.

Typically, and unfortunately, the term is “Christian movie” and not “movies that are Christian”. There is a difference because perception is reality and people determine that reality with their movie ticket. (Tell that to the makers of “The Omega Code“… woof!)

The Potter's House in Dallas, Bishop T. D. Jakes

If Jakes can fill this house weekly, a box office is far from unlikely

And now, comes the prolific Bishop T.D. Jakes – from preaching to writing to screenplays. Now, his movies are giving Hollywood pause, as seen in a recent article from the Christian Post:

Bishop T.D. Jakes is attempting to change the “Hollywood machine” – what has at times been considered a “tool of the devil” by Christians – into a platform to potentially reach millions of unchurched with Christian messages.

Jakes just completed shooting of his third film, “Jumping the Broom” described as “an upcoming faith and family movie that follows the clashing of two families from different backgrounds during a weekend wedding.”

Pastor of the more than 30,000-member church The Potter’s House, Jakes told The Christian Post that he was drawn to this film when he looked at the script and saw the many ways it speaks about bringing together people from different backgrounds.

The story about a husband and a wife from fictional Taylor and Watson families with divergent socioeconomic backgrounds is also a step – in the bishop’s mind – to de-alienate Christians from Hollywood. It’s a chance for Christians to get their message out through Hollywood’s “megaphone.”

Mel Gibson. Kirk Cameron. And Bishop T.D. Jakes?!

There’s a troika you wouldn’t expect, but it seems they have done the unthinkable – given Hollywood a little faith.

As a megachurch pastor, however, Jakes is looking for that “sweet spot” where he can find harmony between Hollywood’s definition of entertainment – where blood, gore and sex often overrule moral concern – and Christian, family values. “We are trying to find balance. I find that people, as a rule, don’t go to see films that are overtly medicinal. They really want to be entertained, so we are trying to find our sweet spot between entertainment and humor and message.”

A school of Christian fish. Classy.

WARNING: Certainly a bad driver

This is something so close to who I am in that an ichthus needs to stand for something more than shady business people, dolts looking for short cuts and manners that would Emily Post dog cuss your mama. Say what you will about the man, but his methods to bring awareness and glory for God is working.

“Christian movies” are largely considered to be cheap, poorly written, terribly acted and carries those three familiar words that most Christ followers have become accustomed, “Straight to DVD.”

Apparently, that’s the not the case any more. “Jumping the Broom” (which is slated for a Mother’s Day 2011 release) has an all-star cast featuring the incomparable Angela Bassett… and uh, a bunch of other folks whose name I don’t remember. (I’m so partial. Sue me.) Certainly, the script has dynamic possibilities. More importantly, there’s a cryptic message to be learned as well.

The term “Jumping the Broom” comes from slave wedding ceremonies that would offer both the husband and wife a chance for “Decision Making honors” in the home with a test of jumping height. Whoever wins, wins.

Such is life for what Bishop Jakes is trying to accomplish – let’s see if a “Christian movie” can jump high enough to capture box office supremacy for at least a week. It will create a buzz in Hollywood and could make the elite question what they do and how they do it.

Oh sure, the blood-gore-sex recipe will never fade, but possibly productions with a purpose can still make a profit. And let’s be honest, in that town, that’s the Gospel truth. Preach on, brother. Preach on.

Ever been to an Oscar-watching party? Yeah… uh… me, neither.

But if I had, I could tell you watching the beautiful people is typically secondary compared to figuring out all those non-promoted, artsy-fartsy (or agenda-laden) movies that made the cut. And then, based on acting and box-office success, the ones that didn’t.

In this piece from ABC News, we see I’m not the only one who was perplexed this year.

Some people get to walk the red carpet based on reputation alone. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” was a Woody Allen film, but really?! I think you could set an egg timer on how long that flick was in theaters, but I guess a screening was enough to get a nomination. That, and a producer with a reputation, because I saw it… woof!

fireproofAnd then, there was “Fireproof”.

I mean, who’da thunk that Kirk Cameron would be the one instigating this debate. But he is because that movie outgrossed most of the heavy hitters who won awards, even “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Granted, it’s an acting competition not an earning competition.

However, that movie was no “The Omega Code.” It had substance. It had a theme. It had people in theaters for more an opening weekend. And oh, it had Jesus in the movie not appearing as a curse word.

And now, there is this Christian movie “The Secrets of Jonathon Sperry” that has Hollywood, dare I say, “buzzing”? So, enter the director with a few sage thoughts:

“Why is it we watch movies with nudity and all this stuff we know we shouldn’t? I’ll tell you why, because Hollywood rules, not Jesus,” Christiano [the director] said to the crowd. “Pastors, I’m telling you, this is the fight, this is what’s going to steal your youth group; this is what’s busting up your marriages. This is the fight. I need you to stand with us.”

Regardless of what side of the political aisle you reside, there are actually families who are tired of seeing only Pixar movies with the kiddos. They want… well, real people in a movie and not have to worry about covering eyes and ears or having to discuss one of those in flagrante dilecto scenes on the way home.

Now, this director is more than some dude reading Zig Ziglar books. He’s trying to create a movement that started with “The Passion of the Christ” up to now.

“George Lucas supposedly said the church, which used to be all powerful, has been usurped by film. And he’s right,” Christiano said. “The devil knows all this, and he has used films to break down this country; it’s a very powerful tool.”

Christian TVBring it, brother! If this guy can back up with mouth with a well-made movie, the Church may have a winner winner chicken dinner.

Christian movies get grassroots support. Evangelicals, Catholics, Pentecostals, Episcopalians and the rest of the God-loving horde go see a movie touting Jesus Christ and biblical principles. But now, the quest is to get the critics to not only see them, but write favorably about them and encourage others to go see them.

Now, on a personal note, I just have to get over our hopes are now collectively pinned upon… Gavin “Captain Stubbing of the Love Boat” McLeod who is the septagenarian in the starring role. Gulp!

Maybe TBN will louse this thing up after all? Let us pray.

Every weekend, there is another movie trying to get its scrilla and street cred. Be it a thought-provoking preview, a plot with more turns than a NASCAR race or just the typical – eye candy. Hollywood spares nothing to get folk to buy tickets, eat popcorn and watch a flick on its opening weekend.

We’ve all done it. Be it Star Wars, Batman, LOTR or some classy chic flick, we have waited in a line with soft drink smoldering in-hand waiting to get that great seat on opening night.

HOWEVER, would it surprise you that at the time of this post on the Wall, the number one movie in America – by a long shot – is not something by Steven Spielberg. Rather, this week’s mondo film stars former teen hearthrob gone seriously Christian, Kirk Cameron?!

Wha..? It seems to most outside the Church, after “Growing Pains,” Cameron seems to have disappeared down the proverbial toilet like the rest of his career. No? See for yourself. However, inside the Church, Kirk Cameron has become something of a wunderkin of witnessing with his co-founded ministry, “The Way of the Master.” It seems Cameron has a new way with his new movie, “Fireproof.”

The movie about a firefighter struggling in his marriage comes to theaters with more momentum than the Kendricks’ first film: a star in Kirk Cameron; a $500,000 budget; and it’s playing in 830 theaters, more than double their last movie. According to movie ticketing site Fandango.com, Fireproof is accounting for 41% of ticket sales, far outpacing Shia LaBeouf’s Eagle Eye.

That’s 41 percent of all ticket sales nationwide, folks. To use a sports analogy, that’s a butt kicking. But from Kirk Cameron, a man not typically known for box-office domination. So what gives?

Marketing 101: Get a product, build a buzz, deliver to the masses.

It’s what most Christian movies do – market group sales, get churches involved, have friends tell their friends and watch the miracles happen. Oh, you never saw “Passion of the Christ“? Same way. What about “Facing the Giants“? Same guys. Again polarizing, that’s where the explanation stops for those outside the Church. However, for those inside of it, we just call it “God.” When you got him backing your play in Hollywood, who needs an agent. Certainly not, “Mike Seaver.”

The “Way of the Master”? Indeed, young Jedi. Indeed.