Friday, September 29, 2006

2 Christian films get the attention of Hollywood
Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, September 29, 2006

Two movies opening in the Bay Area today show that the evangelical Christian movie is coming of age, though with growing pains. Despite Hollywood's intentions to promote and distribute films to the widest possible market, the industry is finding that American audiences are as polarized at the movie theater as they are at the voting booths.

Studio heads and filmmakers are closely watching the performance of "Jesus Camp," a documentary made by two non-evangelicals, as well as the drama "Facing the Giants," made for $100,000 by two Georgia Christian pastors and an all-volunteer cast culled largely from their evangelical congregation. In addition, major Hollywood companies, including the new Christian-focused Fox Faith distributor, are tuning into the potentially lucrative market of an estimated 80 million evangelicals and promise more religious fare in the next few months.

Fox Faith intends to release six to 12 theatrical films annually based on works by Christian authors or with a clear Christian message. The first will be the Oct. 6 release of "Love's Abiding Joy" by best-selling Christian author Janette Oke. The production costs of these films will range from $3 million to $25 million; they have an equally modest marketing budget of $5 million.

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