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Say Goodbye to 'Faith-Based' Films?

05-10-2017

Say Goodbye to 'Faith-Based' Films?

It may sound strange, but the producers of movies that are centered around faith don't want them to be described that way. They say the "faith-based" label has got to go.

Producers like Mark Joseph, whose credits include "The Vessel," "I Am David" and "Ray," point to a number of problems with that terminology.

"The term faith-based is an odd term to describe movies-or anything else," Joseph told Fox News. "For most Americans faith is a normal part of our lives so it's only normal that faith is weaved into movies as it's weaved into most of our lives."

Producer John Sullivan echoed that sentiment, saying the term downplays the role religion plays in everyday life for many moviegoers.  

"It diminishes the role of faith, like it's second-tier, when a majority of Americans are still religious," he said. 

"Having faith in God is not an extreme view but a very common one, so it should be natural for stories to incorporate that element without being sidelined."

Sullivan backs-up his argument by pointing to movies that did very well at the box office and at the same time have a strong faith foundation, but managed to escape the "faith-based" label. 

"I think recent films like 'Hacksaw Ridge' and even 'American Sniper' demonstrate how characters embraced and struggled with their Christian faith without it being a 'faith-based' movie," he said.

"Hacksaw Ridge" grossed $67 million domestically, and "American Sniper" brought in $350 million domestically.

Joseph agreed, adding that while the "faith-based" label might attract some viewers, it's a turn-off to many potential moviegoers. 

"The term scares away both the marginally religious and the irreligious, and it's a signal to them that the story is going to be preachy and overbearing," he said.

On the other hand, Producer Thurman Mason, whose film "Generational Sins" comes out later this year, said regardless of whether you use the label "faith-based," Christian-themed movies are unappealing to most people.

"The problem with faith-based  is not the name; it's the content of these films," he said. "The secular world cannot relate to on-screen faith-based characters who have been so sterilized that they never curse, make bad decisions, or engage in bad behavior like the majority of folks – Christian or not – in the real world."

That may not be the reality for a majority of Americans. 

In 2016, there were a handful of movies centered around faith that were box office hits. 

"Miracles From Heaven" and "God's Not Dead 2" were two faith-based films that did very well at the box office, grossing $61 million and $20 million respectively.

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