The Guardian reports that the distributor went after the religious market in England as aggressively as they did here:
Helping churches to exploit the faith-friendly content is Universal Pictures, which hired a specialist PR firm to target ministers, Christian publications and websites and promote different ways of using the film. Suggested angles are God: The Hollywood Years, charting the history of the deity on the silver screen, and Noah and 9/11, a discussion of religious extremism.
As part of this drive a dozen “priest screenings” were held around Britain so that ministers were well prepared for the film’s general release.
The Rev David Birt, of Hill House parish, Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, said: “I’ve encouraged my flock to see the film. It has interesting subjects – like whether we want a God who is judgmental – and I’ve used it in two sermons already. Films about religion, especially Christianity, are generally devoid of humour … This is a feelgood film for Christian audiences.”
Some organisations have created multimedia resources based on the film, including an internet reality gameshow in which Big Brother meets the Bible and SMS polls asking people to vote on what kind of animal God would be.
One publication, Christianity, changed its cover at the last minute after seeing a preview of the film and devoted a further 3,000 words to it inside, exploring discussion triggers and sermon themes such as salvation from impending judgment, stewardship of the Earth and spiritual discernment.
And did all the PR work in England any better than it did in North America? Apparently not, according to Variety:
In its first outing at a major Euro market, Universal’s laffer “Evan Almighty” opened in fourth spot with a modest $2.3 million at 422 screens.
“The opening was below expectations,” said one London-based exhib, adding that “it is the first summer event movie to disappoint.”
But Brit bookers remain generally upbeat about trade. “The industry was not relying on ‘Evan Almighty’ to deliver. The many other successes have more than compensated.”
“Evan Almighty” received poor reviews from the Brit crix and was dealt another blow by the severe recent flooding in England. Bookers speculate that some auds might have not had the stomach for a pic about a flood — “a bit too close to home,” said one.
Incidentally, my British friend Matt Page reviewed Evan Almighty a couple weeks ago at his Bible Films Blog. Check it out.