By Austin Yoder | Echo
As church attendance drops and movie ticket sales soar, the Christian community is turning its eyes towards a new mission field: Hollywood.
If you have driven by a movie theater recently, you probably noticed an increased number of presumably Christian films being promoted. Titles like "Son of God," "Heaven Is For Real" and "God's Not Dead" adorn cinema marquees around the country as Christian filmmakers try to get the Gospel message to people who are more likely to sit in a theater seat than a church pew.
While not critically well-reviewed, "Son of God" and "God's Not Dead" have already taken in a combined $120 million at the box office, showing that people are still attracted to the stories of the Bible-no matter what the critics say. The more favorably-reviewed "Heaven Is For Real" has grossed more than $50 million.
But it is not just Christians making these types of movies. Even Hollywood, considered "the belly of the beast" by some evangelical Christians, is starting to take notice and capitalize on the financial success of biblically based films.
"Hollywood is cycling through biblical epics again," said Kathy Bruner, co-chair of Taylor's Media Communication Department. "They were popular in the 1950s and 1960s and now they're back. It's not really surprising if you consider that the Bible has a lot of great dramatic material, and it's copyright-free. And ever since 'The Passion' made $370 million, a lot of Hollywood executives are listening to Bible story pitches with open ears."
In fact, this year has already seen the release of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," which has grossed over $320 million and is currently the fifth-highest grossing movie of 2014. Ridley Scott, the Academy Award-nominated director of such films as "Alien" and "Gladiator," is set to release "Exodus: Gods and Kings," his take on the story of Moses, this December.
With all the controversy and talk surrounding "Noah" and other faith-based film releases, it begs the question: How should we as Christians react to these kinds of movies?
For some students, the deviations from the biblical account in "Noah" did not affect their view of the film.
"Even with its biblical inaccuracies, Noah was an intense, emotional, uplifting and inspirational film that captivated me in many spiritual ways that very few Hollywood blockbusters do," said junior Jay Miller. "I loved Aronofsky's vision of the fall of man and found the film to actually be a cautionary tale of the wickedness of sin."
(Thumbnail photograph courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter)