It’s also the fourth recent Christian film that has taken off at theatres, following “Son of God,” “God’s Not Dead,” and Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah.” The success of the niche genre has spurred numerous discussions about a bible boom at the box office and whether 2014 is the year of the Christian film.
However, BoxOffice.com Chief Analyst Phil Contrino tells us we shouldn’t be surprised by how well these movies are performing.
“Religious crowds are underserved and they have been for a while now,” Contrino tells Business Insider. “What you’re seeing is a big section of the population that wants movies that speak directly to them with themes they can relate to. So there’s no surprise that’s there’s this rush out.”
For those who may feel like the success of bible-based movies kind of just sprung up, Contrino says that’s simply not the case either.
2004’s wildly successful “Passion of the Christ” proved there was an interest in religious films.
That movie ended up making north of $611 million worldwide and was made on a $US30 million budget.
In fact, “Son of God” — one of the films performing so well right now at theatres — also comes from Mark Burnett who produced the successful History series.
So far “Noah” has made $301.3 million at the box office — a far reach from the earnings of “Passion.”
While some of that film’s performance may be attributed to the controversy sparked about the movie deviating from the Bible, Contrino says the film may have wanted to please too big of a general crowd while turning away its initial demographic.
“If you’re going to make something aimed at religious crowds just go the whole way: Aim it at religious crowds without the secular movie-going population because the reality is there’s a big enough audience globally for you to just make a film that’s aimed directly at religious people and that’s it and still succeed. It doesn’t have to be everything for everyone,” he says.
Contrino explains there doesn’t have to be a big push for advertising with billboards and TV for these films because there are organisations that will market them instead to religious crowds through means like church outreach.
“When a movie’s aimed at religious crowds, you don’t launch it the same way you would launch ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2,'” says Contrino.
“What you have with these movies is a grassroots campaign that’s targeted specifically at this group and reaching out to churches and making sure they get into theatres,” he adds. “That’s another component to the profitability because they don’t have to do the big ad spend necessarily that other studio pictures do.”
“There are quite a bit of similarities because they both go after a niche that’s very supportive and who’s going to show up opening weekend, says Contrino.
While some suggest this may be the year of the Christian film, Contrino predicts this is just the beginning.
“2014 will be just the tip of the iceberg,” says Contrino. “We’ll see a lot more movies aimed at this crowd over the next several years.”
“The potential is still kind of untapped,” he adds. “‘Passion of the Christ’ proved if you really connect with the religious crowd in a significant way, there’s a lot of money to be made at the box office.”
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