Christians Sabotage Lousy Movies for the Sake of the Gospel

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Christians Sabotage Lousy Movies for the Sake of the Gospel

An article on WND’entitled Christians Sabotage Gospel In Hollywood’blames the failure of a movie called The Identical (which I have not seen) on the fact that Christians’by and large’didn’t support the film during its opening weekend. From what I gathered in this article, The Identical contains a powerful Christian message and’according to the author Drew Zahn (@DrewZahnWND)’is entertaining to boot. Mr. Zahn bemoans the fact that this Christian film will most likely bomb at the box office’not because it wasn’t made by talented people (it was)’but because Christians just didn’t show up at the theater to watch it.

I should mention that the reason Mr. Zahn is so upset about the failure of The Identical is a good one: he is critical of the steady withdraw over the past 150 years of Christians from the culture. I join him in his disappointment, and it is my hope and prayer that Christians will carry out the command originally given to Adam in the Garden: the take dominion over the earth. Whether Mr. Zahn is also pro-dominion mandate/Christian Reconstructionism is something I won’t speculate on. You’re welcome, WND.

That being said, can I suggest another reason why The Identical bombed at the box office on opening weekend?

According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Identical received a 4% critical rating. What this means is that approximately 4% of film critics (who write for a variety of media’newspaper, magazine, internet) actually liked the film. What that also means’and this reeeeeally hurts’is that 96% of film critics nationwide didn’t like the movie. If you take the time to read a quick sampling of the reviews, you’ll find that some of these reviews go beyond simply negative; many critics downright hated this movie.

So, my response to the original article in question is this: Is the fact that The Identical is a critical flop the fault of Christians? Could it be that Christians stayed away from the film because it has gotten consistently horrible reviews? Mr. Zahn himself admits that the film has some flaws and then proceeds to list them. He then almost provides an excuse for the problems he lists by saying how wonderful the story is and how’darn it’Christians really should have bought tickets to this movie and not left their brothers and sisters in the arts out to dry’again. He doesn’t explain what these previous out to dry incidents are that would necessitate the qualifier again, but apparently we Christians stay home from Christian movies quite often. That doesn’t explain why films like Fireproof and The Passion of the Christ have been as successful as they were.

Obviously the problems mentioned by Mr. Zahn were so substantial that critics overwhelmingly panned the movie. So should we as Christians ignore film critics en masse and flood the movie theaters on opening day of the latest Christian feature film, regardless of the reviews?

Did the critics pan the film’s profoundly Christian message? Was that the reason they almost unanimously heralded the movie as something not worth your time? One need only take a look at a sampling of the various negative reviews of this film posted on Rotten Tomatoes to see that the failings of this film are in its execution, not its message.

To be blunt, Christians ought to stay home and not spend our money on inferior filmmaking product. Hollywood isn’t the entity that’s taking Christians for granted; it’s the Christian filmmakers themselves that seem to be doing that. Hollywood is primarily concerned with one thing: making money. They see a low-budget movie like Fireproof make 67 times its budget’something a Marvel superhero movie can’t even begin to do in its wildest dreams’and they take notice. Fireproof may not have been great art insofar as the craft of filmmaking was concerned, but it was smartly budgeted and smartly marketed. Hollywood will invest in a movie if they think that people will come and fill the theater seats to watch it. Nobody filled theater seats to watch The Identical.

The lesson here is simple: Christians’make BETTER movies than the other guy. Write brilliant scripts. Hire talented actors. Find directors who just want to tell a good story.

But we need to make the story overtly Christian! No’you need to make the story overtly GOOD. Creativity reflects God. God creates, and what He creates is good (Genesis 1-2). If Christians want to be like our Lord, we will create like Him.

But we need to put a Gospel presentation in there! No’you need to point to the Gospel through quality filmmaking. Whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God.

If people don’t come see your movie, it just might be because it’s a lousy movie that nobody likes. Let’s stop blaming the consumer for not wanting to buy subpar product. Let’s start expecting more out of our brothers and sisters in the arts. Hanging them out to dry may be the best thing we can do if it means that’next time’they learn from their mistakes and work harder to make something more Christ-honoring. That is, to make something GOOD.