Faith based films have seen a marked increase in Hollywood in the last several years. Critics were quick to dismiss the success of the Passion of the Christ some 12 years ago claiming its success was only caused by controversy, and the bankrolling of the picture by a celebrity like Mel Gibson. However, a few short years later came Fireproof and Courageous. Both these films had an estimated budget of 1-2 million dollars and they grossed about $33,000,000. In 2011 a subtle pro-life film October Baby came out and moved the genre along to more success.
This set up the wildly successful 2014 which included films like God’s not Dead, Heaven is for Real, Mom’s Night Out etc. The success continued in 2015 and 2016. Word is the big studios are now reaching out to small faith based companies to see if they forge partnerships, which while helpful also presents some serious concerns for faith based companies.
In full disclosure, the writers and producers of God’s not Dead are friends of mine who a few years ago came to a talk I gave at Family Theater in Hollywood, and then took my wife and me to dinner after reading one of screenplays. In a faith based world filled with Evangelicals, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, as well as the crew at Family Theater in Hollywood are Catholic. For those interested in Family Theater, you might want to read my past article on the late Father Patrick Peyton , the Rosary priest who is on the road to canonization.
In secular 2016, it is hard to believe how well received Father Peyton was in Hollywood. Family Theater is where James Dean and William Shatner got their starts. A trip inside Family Theater affords one an array of pictures from Hollywood’s Golden Era when Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and Grace Kelly all starred in Family Theater production films. A side note, tucked away in closet at Family Theater is an old film splicer. Rumor has it a young film student from USC named George Lucas used it to edit a Family Theater production film featuring a recently arrived young Canadian actor named William Shatner.
Everyone has their own story on how they ended up in the faith based realm. Chuck and Cary worked with the likes of Sylvester Stallone and other action oriented films for years until they could no longer resist the call to do faith based films. While they like Stallone, too few other people had the heart or character of Rocky Balboa in Hollywood. The initial years were tough, especially when hardly anyone was doing faith based films, they literally went into the valley before they could get back up to see the Promised Land. Needless to say, many thought they had lost their minds saying goodbye to the mainstream and taking the road less traveled.
Some readers might recall my initial 2014 review of God’s not Dead. The film made on a budget of $1,000,000 that initially generated a US box office figure of $60,000,000 and when all the worldwide receipts were accounted including foreign box office, DVD, movie subscription services etc totaled over$100,000,000. Generally writers and producers don’t see the kind of big money on an out of the blue success story like God’s not Dead. It comes later. If one thinks politics can be dirty, one needs to understand how the movie and music industry works.
Some film critics, even those in the faith based community complain that some of the scripts can be predictable, and perhaps the faith based angle needs to be more subtle, grittier and more provocative. Most faith based writers have no qualms with this argument. They are often put in a Catch 22, they either write a film that would be approved by faith based film companies like Pure Flix or risk the big studios saying a more subtle faith based approach is still too “faithful” for them.
Some secular critics showed nothing but venom for God’s not Dead, ( a Variety review actually used the words “Nazi propaganda film” to describe a scene) and the just released God’s not Dead 2 claiming Christians aren’t persecuted by the secular world. Then stories emerged that literally came right out of the plot lines of both films. Yet, these militant secularists give no apology.
While the critics of faith based films will always be sharpening their pens and swords, there is reason to believe that some of the Big Studios are seeing the light–or at least the financial possibilities. As mentioned above, some of the big time Hollywood studios are beginning to reach out to smaller faith based studios. Also, more faith based film companies are emerging. In addition up and comers like Nathan Leon, a talented writer, producer and director received some notice for his film/documentary Sidewalk Chronicles on Unplanned Pregnancies which led to adoptions that positively changed the lives of so many. He and many others like him are generating some buzz in Tinseltown.
Indeed I met Leon and many other young talented men and women, while I was out in Hollywood a few weeks ago. I had been invited invited by Chuck and Cary for their premier party for God’s not Dead 2, over dinner they shared with me their big plans. They are literally this week putting the fishing touches on God’s not Dead 3 which should start to film in a month or so and be out in theaters next March or April. Also, they have an ambitious blueprint for the future and are seeking investors for their own studio and several projects are already in the works. Who knows where there this will all lead, but there are shoots and blossoms being seen in Hollywood. In a town known for fully embracing the dark side, shoots and blossoms of faith are a very good thing.
There have been surprisingly few movies on D-Day, as indicated by the fact that three out of the five videos looked at below are from television miniseries. Here are the five best from a scarce lot:
5. Ike: The War Years (1978)
Robert Duvall as Eisenhower gives his usual riveting performance. The late Lee Remick gives a good performance as Captain Kay Summersby, the British driver/secretary assigned to Eisenhower. Unfortunately the miniseries centers around the relationship of Eisenhower and Summersby, a relationship which is subject to historical dispute.
4. Ike: Countdown to D-Day (1995)
Tom Selleck gives a very good portrayal of Eisenhower in the days leading up to D-Day. The video does a first rate job of portraying the problems that Eisenhower confronted: getting prima donnas like Montgomery and Patton to work as a part of a team, concerns about the weather, the deception campaign to convince the Nazis that Calais would be the invasion site, etc. The video also shines a light on the weight of responsibility which Eisenhower bore, especially when we see him write out a note just before the invasion taking full responsibility on his shoulders if it failed.
3. Band of Brothers (2001)
The epic miniseries covering the exploits of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, captures well the chaos of the parachute and glider operations behind German lines that were so critical a part of the Allied victory on D-Day. Continue reading
So comedic actor Seth Rogen doesn’t hesitate to call Christians the A-word for supporting Hobby Lobby. Knowing that Christians don’t retaliate, maybe at worst start a picket line.
Seth Rogen is so fortunate to live in a country built upon Christian values. If he were in an Islamic or Communist nation, he wouldn’t be alive today.
Keep up the bad work Seth Rogen.
It has long amused me that in a country with 40% of the population considering themselves to be conservatives, we have an entertainment industry so dominated by a political point of view that regards conservatives with contempt. Andrew Klavan, in his own inimitable fashion, explains how Hollywood distorts reality and presents it to us as entertainment.
Cars is one of the few Pixar or Dreamworks movies that I have not seen (and with a two-year old, I’ve seen a lot). Well it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing the sequel either.
Debuting in theaters this Friday, the seemingly innocuous Disney-Pixar film ‘Cars 2’ has become a tool to wedge a fight against fossil fuels in favor of alternative forms of energy.
When John Lasseter moved from executive producer to executive director last year, he overhauled major portions of the plot into a good vs. evil story against big oil.
From the only reliable source of news on the net, The Onion. It is only a rumor that the 5 year old screen writer was brought in to do last minute patch ups on the screenplay for Mel Gibson’s beaver opus, The Beaver.
She continues to invited on MSNBC and network morning shows spouting out words of wisdom when asked her opinions on important topics of the day.
But why is she constantly being invited back when she’s not even a political pundit nor works in politics for that matter?
No problem, she now offers us what she knows about Christianity.
We are all better for it.
In fact, I feel that after being exposed to this intellectual superior, I’ve regressed enough to begin enjoying her comedy bits!
(Biretta tip: Andrew Breitbart)
People often demand to know why it is that we as a society consent to pay movie stars and professional athletes such obscene sums of money, while teachers and other people clearly providing greater benefit to society are paid so very little.
There are a great many economic and social explanations one can go into, but one basic point that probably bears pointing out is that society does not in fact spend more on Hollywood or on professional sports than it does on teachers. Nationally, the US spends an average of $10,000 per year on each student in public schools, and average college tuition (blending public and private) is roughly the same. Thus, a person with a four year college degree has had roughly $170,000 spent on his education — almost certainly more money than he will spend over his lifetime on movies or watching sports.
The reason why teachers make so much less than movie stars or professional athletes is that the total amount of money collected by these entertainment celebrities is spread over a much smaller number of people. There are under 500 players in the NBA, around 1700 in the NFL. The number of actors who make truly large amounts of money (especially when averaged over a career which often has long dry periods) is at most a couple thousand. By comparison, there are over six million teachers and three hundred thousand college and university professors.
Entertainers make so much money because modern means of communication allow large numbers of people to enjoy the performances of a comparatively small number of people.
Whoopi “it isn’t rape-rape” Goldberg, Woody “I married my daughter” Allen, Martin “Jesus slept with Mary Magdalene” Scorsese, Monica Bellucci, David Lynch, Michael Mann, and Tilda Swinton are just a portion of the Hollywood crowd that are clamoring for the release of Roman Polanski who is being held in Switzerland waiting extradition to the United States.
Roman Polanski is on the run from the law for his rape of a 13 year girl in 1977 when he was a young 44 years of age.
Yesterday a former Hollywood starlet, Charlotte Lewis known for costarring opposite Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child, came out in a news conference that she was raped when she was 16 years of age in Paris by Roman Polanski when he was 50 years old.
Her reasons for coming out now?
Her disgust at how Hollywood is defending Roman Polanski and minimizing his offenses.
Leonard Nimoy is calling it quits as to any future portrayals of Mr. Spock, and is retiring from show business.
Leonard Nimoy, the actor who has famously portrayed “Star Trek’s” original alien Spock for over 40 years, has announced he’s officially hanging up the pointy Vulcan ears for good. Nimoy, 79, plans to retire shortly from show business and the “Star Trek” convention circuit, according to the Canadian newspaper Toronto Sun.
I confess that I have never watched South Park. From what I have read about it, the show holds nothing sacred and has had cruel attacks on Christ and other religious figures. Some people have given it a thumbs up for not being politically correct. I guess the latter is true, because in an episode that aired Wednesday the South Park crew went after the ultimate sacred cow in today’s America, the founder of Islam, Mohammed.
Or rather they attempted to. Comedy Central, obviously caving to death threats from Islamic extremists, bleeped out the portions of the broadcast aimed at Mohammed:
Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night’s episode of the animated show “South Park.”
The episode was a continuation of last week’s episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.
A radical Muslim website threatened the show’s creators following that episode.
Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.
An actor, a faithful Catholic, willing to lose a role in a TV series because he won’t do sex scenes? Surely not in this day and age? Guess again!
Neal McDonough is a marvelous actor who elevates every role he plays, whether it’s in Band of Brothers or Desperate Housewives. So when he was suddenly replaced with David James Elliott 3 days into the filming on ABC’s new series Scoundrels earlier this week, there had to be a story behind the story. The move was officially explained as a casting change. But, in fact, McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do some heated love scenes with babelicious star (and Botox pitchwoman) Virginia Madsen. The reason? He’s a family man and a Catholic, and he’s always made it clear that he won’t do sex scenes. And ABC knew that. Because he also didn’t get into action with Nicolette Sheridan on the network’s Desperate Housewives when he played her psycho husband during Season 5. And he also didn’t do love scenes with his on-air girlfriend in his previous series, NBC’s Boomtown, or that network’s Medical Investigation.
The following is a column posted by Brad Miner of The Catholic Thing on Monday, March 1, 2010 A.D.:
John Timothy McNicholas, Cincinnati’s archbishop from 1925 until 1950, went to a New York convention in 1933 and heard the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Amleto Cicognani (future Vatican Secretary of State), rail against Hollywood’s “massacre” of American moral innocence and call for the “purification of cinema.” McNicholas took the message to heart and founded the Catholic Legion of Decency (CLOD). As TIME magazine reported in 1934, the organization’s mission was simple: the faithful should stay “away from all motion pictures except those which do not offend decency and Christian morality.” So popular did the Legion’s campaign become that Jews and Protestants joined the crusade, and the organization was quickly rechristened the National Legion of Decency.
The Legion’s descriptions of films were exclusively condemnatory; calling only for protests about and boycotts of films deemed impure. And some of the films CLOD listed have been subsequently delisted by its successor, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting. For instance, “Finishing School,” a Thirties production starring Billie Burke, Ginger Rogers, and the too-often ignored Frances Dee, was condemned by CLOD as portraying an “attempted seduction and an accomplished seduction. . . . Protest. . . . Protest. . .” Today, the USCCB rating of the film is A-III, in essence: It’s a quality movie. Go ahead and watch it – you’re grown-ups.
“I know it’s satire but, personally, that [joke] bothered me too,” Warburton said on a conference call to promote his other primetime show, CBS’s sitcom “Rules of Engagement,” which returns for a fourth season on March 1. (On “Family Guy” Warburton does the voice of the wheelchair-bound police officer, Joe.)
“Look, I have fun. I like Seth [MacFarlane, the show’s creator]. He’s got a great comic mind and I think that the show can be fantastically funny. But I do believe that it can be hurtful at times,” Warburton said in response to a question about the episode posed by WaPo Team TV’s “Family Guy” bureau chief Emily Yahr. […]
Warburton is a Catholic, and he and his wife have four kids.
[Update at the bottom of this post]
Salvete TAC readers!
Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:
1. The USCCB scandal continues as the U.S. bishops continue to issue denials of wrongdoings.
Mary Ann of Les Femmes blog asks why does the USCCB continue to cooperate with evil.
An interesting twist to this story is how the Boston Globe and New York Times covered the homosexual pedophile abuse scandal in the Church quite vigorously yet not one peep when the USCCB is caught red-handed with direct links to anti-Catholic organizations.
2. A great discussion about the origins of the phrase, “The Dunce Cap“, provided for a clarification by Friar Roderic. He provided a video that explains the steady progression as a Protestant insult, ie, to call Catholic dunces for being aggressive in their Catholic beliefs, to the more secularized version which has turned it into a catch phrase for idiocy.
Channel surfing the other night, I came across a slew of 1980s “coming of age” movies on cable television. With all of their flaws (too much sexual innuendo, which is mild by today’s comparisons,) one can easily see a positive theme of a bright future and endless possibilities running through this genre of films. I had almost forgotten that in the 1983 film Valley Girl, Julie played by Deborah Foreman actually chastises her hippy parents for their suggestion that if she and her new boyfriend Randy, played by Nicholas Cage, want to explore their sexuality it would be alright by them. Julie rebukes her parents for having such beliefs as well as the nostalgia surrounding their involvement in the 1960s anti war movement; after all it was the era of Ronald Reagan. Everything seemed possible; it was Morning in America again. Many of these movies were set in California which at the time exuded excitement for those of us growing up in colder, Midwest climates. Economically, California was booming and it was also the heart of a growing and diverse music scene.
Fast forward some 25+ years later and many of today’s films have a dark undercurrent with more than a little subtle leftwing political and cultural propaganda running through them. While there are certainly hopeful signs in Hollywood, especially with the advent of stars like Eduardo Verastegi and his movie Bella and associated Metanoia Films, (Click here for my interview with Eduardo Verastegui,) the secular film industry has fallen even farther into the cesspool. Sadly the Golden State’s economic boom seems but a distant memory, which was bound to occur when California’s Big Government mentality rivaled that of Sweden or the Canadian province of Quebec. The bigger question remains; is California setting the trend once again for the nation and the western world, and if it is what hope is there? The hope remains as it always has not in mortal man and the latest left wing hypothesis about the world’s failings, but in the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Last night I was exercising and flipping through the channels and saw Mel Gibson on the Jay Leno Show- very disturbing stuff. He joked about having a lot of off-color jokes, he offered up some profanity to quote some girls he ran into while filming in Boston. To top it off he promised Leno that if and when he decides to get married again he would announce it first on Leno’s show.