Redeeming the Time: Paramount’s 1923 Has Most Successful Premiere in Network’s History

Poster courtesy of MMPA

Redeeming the Time: Paramount’s 1923 Has Most Successful Premiere in Network’s History

By Allen Rushing, Movieguide® Contributor

Paramount’s YELLOWSTONE prequel series, 1923, exploded onto the cinematic scene this past weekend and set a record for viewership in its debut.

The series attracted nearly 7-and-a-half million, “marking Paramount+’s biggest debut ever.

There may be, and probably are, multiple reasons for this turnout: the growing success of predecessor sequel YELLOWSTONE, the fact that the 1923 cast includes legendary performers Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, etc. However, another less apparent factor may be that the series premiere episode opens with far less offensive sexual content and foul language compared to YELLOWSTONE’s premiere episode from 2018.

It is now “a truth universally acknowledged” (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Vol. I, chapter 1, p. 1) that films and series with less objectionable material, and specifically less sexual content, do far better at the box office than those which throw sexuality and overtly sexual scenes at their viewers.

As Movieguide® founder, Dr. Ted Baehr, writes:

In 1995, there were 36 movies produced that had excessive sexual content. These films earned on average less than $1 million at the box office. By 2018 the number made dropped to 15. Only six of these were made by the major studios. Movies with excessive sex averaged one-fifth the box office of movies with no sex whatsoever. Also, movies with no homosexual content totaled $7.9 billion at the domestic box office, while movies with strong homosexual content totaled only $0.6 billion. In part as the result of Movieguide®’s Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry the major studios are learning sex does not sell as well in theaters as was once so strongly believed.

If Paramount wants to continue to succeed in their scripted series, they need to continue to produce series debuts like 1923, that contains a biblical approach to cinematic storytelling.

When the Apostle Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16), he does so to remind them to take care how they walk (Eph. 5:15), that is, live, in order to reject and turn from the many evils “in which [they] once walked” (Eph. 2:1). In much the same way, it is to be hoped that the creative team behind 1923 will pursue a storytelling path which turns away from morally offensive and unnecessary content, and thus, that Paramount’s prequel will be better and more watchable for Christian families than its predecessor sequel.

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