Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Industry News--Part 1

Had a good response to yesterday’s post, with quite a few folks requesting Violet Dawn ARCs. The number’s right about what I expected. I still have some ARCs left. We’ll let it sit one more day for any more BGs to chime in, then I’ll announce it on the ACFW loop tomorrow. So if you’re interested and haven’t sent out the e-mail, better jump on it today.

Interesting addendum to this Kanner Lake marketing idea of mine. I thought this up way last year—in time to write something about the blogging into the story of Violet Dawn. At the time I’d never heard of a character blog and believed my idea would be the absolute first. In the interim between thunk-up and announcing, I began to hear little bits about character blogs—I guess mostly for TV. (I don’t watch any TV dramas, so what do I know?) I am highly offended that anybody would steal my idea before I could even go public. Not a doubt in my mind, however, that anybody else’s lame attempts could hold half a shine to Scenes and Beans. After all, S&B’s gonna be written by you.

Now, in no particular order over the next couple of days, some interesting industry news.

From the weekend edition of USA Today—Hollywood Turns to Divine Inspiration.

According to the cover article, studios, inspired by such hits as The Passion of the Christ and Chronicles of Narnia, are looking to produce more “religious-based stories” and are marketing them particularly to the church-going crowd. Producers are pitching to ministers. One studio has created a “faith division” for marketing. Not until the success of Passion did the studios see the light. Twentieth Century Fox even has a new division—Fox Faith. The studio markets DVDs and feature films to pastors nationwide, and offers churches movie trailers, posters and even Bible study guides for home videos such as Hangman’s Curse.

Producer Reuben Cannon “discovered the power of the divine at the box office” when he attended the annual "Woman, Thou Art Loosed" conference. He was astounded to see 60,000 women come each day for the three-day convention. “Rock stars don’t draw . . . that kind of audience,” he said. Cannon ended up producing the film adaptation of T.D. Jakes’ novel, Loosed. He built momentum for this and other films through pitching ministers and private screenings for church members. This is “why people are paying a lot more attention to the mega-pastors,” Cannon said. “When you’ve got thousands of people who listen to you every week . . . you’ve got a powerful voice.”

Director James March said, “Instead of mocking religious people or portraying them as hypocrites, you’re seeing a more straight-up examination of how hard it is to be righteous.”

The article mentions The DaVinci Code movie numerous times, as if it’s part of the faith-based film crowd. Hm. The article adds that Sony Pictures, already bracing for possible backlash over DaVinci, has set up a website,
www.thedavincidialogue.com that “essentially distances Sony from the film’s message by presenting counterarguments to the drama. The site features essays by religious scholars about the historical beginning of Christianity and invites readers to chime in.”

Overall, I’m delighted with this new trend. First came the highly successful Christian music market, then fiction, now movies. Terrific! But how do you feel about this “powerful voice” of the “mega-pastors?” Will marketing to churches create a similar kind of gatekeeper we find in the more conservative CBA book buyers? Will churches back a movie that’s relatively Christian, but not totally theologically sound, or without an overt message? Where do you see this all going?


michael snyder said...

I'm with you, Brandilyn. The character blog was MY wonderfully original idea last year too! (I just didn't have a book to go with it...DRAT!)

Your unique spin on things is a cool idea, however.

johnny dangerous said...

Hollywood is discovering niche marketing at a time when much of its former audience is draining away to other venues of entertainment such as video gaming, premier cable, and the Internet. The sudden interest by Hollywood executives in the "faith" market is strictly commercial and not meant to enrich the culture, but to enrich themselves. While we should welcome positive portrayals of people of faith (and Hollywood will not limit this to Christians, we must realize),I think the church should be very cautious about being exploited. Heaven knows that much of evangelicalism is already co-opted by commercialism, seduced by a "health and wealth" pseudo-gospel, and in the name of "ministry" or "outreach" could be easily compromised. Having said this, we also must examine our own consciences, as we writers are bound up with the commercial world of publishing and by extension, the entertaiment business at large.

Anonymous said...

What Johnny said. Well put.

Stuart said...

I just hope this helps Christians enter the motion picture industry in much stronger numbers. :)

I don't trust hollywood, but this could be the crack that lets some real quality movies founded in the Christian worldview be made.

Though I think it will take years, and we may have to wade through some schlock before a steady stream of good stuff finally comes out. :)

I also heard a news report today that Sony has stated that the Da Vinci Code is "NOT" a religious movie and is not intended to criticize any single religion...

Domino said...

I want to believe that this means there will be movies coming from Hollywood that challenge the viewer to seek the absolute Truth.

I know it's wrong to assume that movies from Hollywood's Faith division will all have the impact of The Passion. I'm just hoping that mega-pastors will not have dollar signs in their eyes. I want them all to wear t-shirts that say "I cannot be bought."

I guess our job as believers is to pray for those Christians in Hollywood to obey God and walk through the doors He opens.

If enough really good Christian movies are made (and make the money I expect them to make), then I can see plenty of Christian novels of several genres being made into movies.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

And yet, I already see a bit of the gatekeeper concept being played out. Was End of the Spear given the same kind of attention in the Christian community as Passion or Narnia?

I don't really like the church endorsement, though pastors are people too and should have a right to voice their opinions, even influence whom they will. So I guess I'm firmly in the "I don't know; might be good, but it might not" camp. How's that for decisive? Hahah!


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I would just feel blessed to have more family friendly movies to go to...this could swing the pendulum back the other way...for the good of christians!

Pammer said...

I think it is high time that some cleaner movies found their way back into mainstream, even though it is because of the big dollar signs. We, as Christians are showing the strength of our number and that we will stand up for our beliefs, we show them at the voting booths and we show them when someone produces a movie we consider worthwhile. I think it's a great thing to tap the shoulder of the "others" who are trying to take God out of everything, to let them know we "will not go quietly into that goodnight". . .and we must remember that even though the producers are just seeing dollar signs, God can use even that for good.

I have to agree that I thought the End of the Spear was shamefully undercommercialized.

We just have to pray for the leaders that are being wooed by the big boys and we have to set our standards high and keep them there.

And did I mention pray? :D

Great post, btw.