Christian Movies in the 21st Century:
How the Christian Message Is Not Limited by Film Genres or Niche Markets
By Jackie Riester, Contributing Writer
According to a recent poll by Gallup in 2015, 75.2% of Americans identify as Christians. When the Barna Group conducted a similar study in the same year, they also found 62% of American adults have made a personal commitment to Jesus that they still consider to be important in their lives.
These studies show America is still a predominantly Christian nation, and this is reflected in the box office.
As MOVIEGUIDE®’s Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry clearly shows year in and year out, Americans consume more entertainment when it promotes Christian or biblical values. Ultimately, this means the Christian audience can have great influence over the content in movies.
What we see is that many of the Top 10, or even the Top 25 movies of the year hold to Christian values and a biblical worldview, even though highly successful movies like WAR ROOM are not among the Top 25. The top 10 movies last year included titles such as, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, JURASSIC WORLD, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, and even the animated film, INSIDE OUT. The dialogue in these motion pictures don’t necessarily mention Jesus by name, but biblical themes and values still permeate the storylines and they all received high quality marks and earned hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.
Considering that a majority of the audience who viewed these blockbusters were Christians, their remarkable success suggests that some underperforming faith-based movies must approach filmmaking differently if they are to successfully reach and influence more Americans for Jesus Christ. In fact, a movie doesn’t need to be explicitly evangelistic in order to share Christian and biblical values. The best example of such an approach can be understood by noting how Jesus Himself evangelized people when He traveled around Ancient Israel while on earth. When speaking to masses of people, Jesus would use parables or symbolic stories to convey the values and morals He was trying to spread.
This approach is basically what happens in many, if not most, of the blockbuster movies appearing in the Top 10 or Top 25 Movies at the box office.
For example, in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, the importance of friendship, self-sacrifice and trust is displayed by the rebel cause. In JURASSIC WORLD, the necessity for courage and discernment is proven through crisis. In AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, the consequences of idolatry and power are shown through the enemy’s demise. In INSIDE OUT, the power of community and hope are exemplified through the friendship of Joy and Sadness.
Of course, not all the top movies at the box office in 2015 are considered faith-based, “Christian” movies and may not have explicitly advocated the Christian faith. However, they exemplified how, by displaying biblical morals, God’s will and the promotion of Christ’s teachings can still be achieved in Hollywood.
That said, filmmakers shouldn’t be afraid of inserting more overt references to God, Jesus Christ or the Bible into their movies. In fact, some blockbuster movies, including Marvel’s first two AVENGERS superhero movies, do exactly that, as does MAN OF STEEL from Warner Bros. and the latest X-MEN movie, APOCALYPSE, from Fox, and they should be commended for doing that.
MOVIEGUIDE® rewards such movies at its Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry.
Our 25th Annual Awards Gala has already been scheduled for Feb. 10, 2017 in Los Angeles. So, please stay tuned to this website for more details about it in the future.
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