With 2014 drawing to a close and Oscar season gearing up, it is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t for the faith film market this year
Early in the year things looked promising with four faith titles performing well: Son of God, Noah, Heaven is For Real, and God’s Not Dead all produced high grosses at the box office. But not all of this year’s faith-based films would hit their mark. The Identical, When the Game Stands Tall, Persecuted, and Mom’s Night Out were all low performers [in theaters]. Up against the fifty major studio movies released between the traditional April blockbuster season kick-off and Labor Day, it can be argued that these faith films never had a chance.
Ray Subers of BoxOfficeMojo.com points out in a recent report that while the biggest faith movies of 2014 had words like “God” or “heaven” in their titles, the faith-based films that performed poorly were not really about religion. This belies the common theory that in order to attract the greatest number of market demographics, film content should be as universal (or homogenized) as possible. Traditionally, the four most hotly pursued quadrants are young male, young female, adult male, and adult female.
A faith film does not have to earn Passion money ($611 million +) to be considered successful. Son of God returned $68 million on a $22 million budget. Heaven is For Real, based on the best-selling book of the same name, made $91 million on a $12 million budget, and God’s Not Dead earned $61 million on from a production budget of $2 million. This year’s big budget reimagining of Noah earned $101 million ($359 million globally) on a $125 million budget.
Clearly, the broad appeal of this year’s faith offerings suggests that the faith market has emerged as more than just a niche. Is Faith & Family the “fifth quadrant” or has it become an umbrella over the other four? Time will tell. And as last month’s Entertainment Report announced the launches of two new studio faith-based divisions at MGM and Relativity, Cinedigm has now entered into its own multi-year, multi-picture, first-look deal for original, cast-driven, family and faith-friendly films with Chesler/Perlmutter Productions. Together these events suggest that the wave of faith-based films we have been enjoying will continue into the foreseeable future. – Allied Faith & Family