This week I’ll look at 2014 being The Year of The Bible at the box
office as no fewer than five titles vie for the faith based audience.
First up is Fox’s “Son of God” which is basically a re-editing of the
2013 History Channel mini-series “The Bible”. Upon first glance you may
say, hey everyone saw this on television. The ratings were indeed
outstanding as it averaged 11.4 million viewers during its five week run
and it also became the best selling miniseries of all time on DVD.
Now the producers have gone in and re-edited the miniseries, whittling
it down to two hours and have inserted previously unseen footage. The
fact it was on free TV seems to be mattering little to a religious
audience as theatres by the hundreds are enjoying robust pre-sales from
Christian groups and churches. A Cinemark theatre in Cincinnati has
sold out all of their thirteen, yes 13, screens on pre-opening Thursday
night to the Crossroads Church in that city. Mega-church pastor Rick
Warren is doing the same in eight different theatres in Orange County
California. Some pastors will even be showing the film in Spanish and
Then we move on to March 21 for Freestyle’s “God’s Not
Dead” with Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain. Then flip the calendar one week
to March 28 with the Biblical epic “Noah” starring Russell Crowe,
Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Sir Anthony Hopkins and to give the
movie further street cred is that the director is award winner Darren
Aronofsky of “Black Swan” fame. Initial word was that Aronofsky was
focusing away from the Biblical slant of the film but has since recut
the movie to attempt to remain faithful for religious moviegoers.
Look for much of the same Easter weekend when Greg Kinnear, Kelly
Reilly and Margo Martindale (“August: Osage County”) star in “Heaven is
For Real” which is produced by, among others, Joe Roth and Pastor T. D.
Jakes. This film also has a notable director, in Randall Wallace, who
helmed such movies as “We Were Soldiers” and “The Man in the Iron Mask”.
finally as we head to Christmas, Fox brings us director Ridley Scott’s
epic “Exodus” as Moses (this time in the form of Christian Bale) leads
the Israelites out of Egypt. “Exodus” also stars Ben Kingsley, Joel
Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver.
Is 2014 the year we left behind
recent faith based films that were painfully short on budget, production
value and marketing? All of these 2014 films will rely heavily on
church group/grass roots marketing and word-of-mouth as shown by the
“Son of God” presales and that aspect of a religious film’s marketing
campaign is still vital to the success of any film of this genre but all
of the above titles will also be accompanied by a comprehensive studio
marketing plan much like a Hollywood tent pole. It should be
interesting to watch how each of these four films perform as the Year of
the Bible progresses.