Why Aren't Christian Movies More Popular?
report in the WSJ. Religion-themed books do well in the marketplace. What accounts for the failure, aside from outliers like The Passion, of religious-themed movies to hit it big at the box office?Part of the answer is of course quality. A good Christian movie has to be first and foremost a good movie, and making good movies isn’t easy. Christians certainly aren’t doing themselves any favors in this regard by hiring politicians rather than artists to lead studios.There have been some critically acclaimed spiritually themed movies lately—Of Gods and Men comes to mind, as does Terrence Malick’s corpus (Both Of Gods and Men and Tree of Life won the Golden Palm at Cannes). But these movies aren’t exactly the kinds of films designed to bring the masses to the movies and rake in the money at the box offices.Perhaps part of the reason for this is that Christian movies are hard to categorize. Historically, religious bestsellers (and they have been legion) cut across many different genres: simple stories told clearly and simply about ordinary lives transformed by encounters with God, the adventures of great heroes of faith whether from the Bible or other sources, works of fiction that present spiritual themes in either heroic or apocalyptic dimensions. JRR Tolkien’s extraordinary fantasy trilogy was (and still is) considered one of the greatest works of Christian fiction in the 20th century, and while the films don’t exactly dwell on the profoundly Christian spirit that informs every line of the story, they don’t exorcise that spirit either. So the fact that “Christian movies” haven’t been reaching blockbuster status doesn’t mean that movies whose inner logic or vision is shaped by faith haven’t achieved plenty of success.Stretching our understanding of what constitutes a Christian movie might go along way to resolving the apparent disconnect between popular Christian books and unpopular movies, but it’s also true that there’s an unclaimed ground between highbrow works by figures like Malick and popular-yet-subtly Christian works like Lord of the Rings. Our troubled times need all the help they can get, and claiming that ground is important part of answering that need. Let’s hope the rising generation will bring a new wave of great Christian art to the moviegoing masses.[Image of Movie Theater from Shutterstock]