Might as well note this milestone: In 1999, The Omega Code stunned the movie world by becoming the first evangelical Christian movie to crack the weekly box-office top ten. Now, in 2015, War Room has become the first such film to reach #1.
The always brilliant Darren Franich had a new article up at Entertainment Weekly over the weekend, in which he took a look at the movies of 1999 — once dubbed “the year that changed movies” by his bosses — and asked how well those films have stood the test of time.
That was the year when everyone thought The Matrix would take the place of Star Wars as a sci-fi myth for our times. That was the year when The Blair Witch Project invented the found-footage horror subgenre and proved the value of viral marketing campaigns. That was the year when young, hip directors like David Fincher, David O. Russell and Spike Jonze produced instant cult hits like Fight Club, Three Kings and Being John Malkovich, all of which came out in October of that year. And so on.
But there was another game-changer released in October 1999 that Franich doesn’t mention — a movie that may be pretty silly but still set a new precedent.
The Exorcist spawned a series of sequels and prequels that couldn’t agree on where its characters had come from or where they were going. Now it seems the same fate has befallen The Omen, which was one of the other big supernatural horror movies from the 1970s.
The original film spawned two big-screen sequels that saw Damien Thorn, the boy destined to become the Antichrist, grow to adulthood. The third film ended with the Second Coming of Christ and the death of the Antichrist at the hands of his lover, but it was followed ten years later by a TV-movie in which we learned that Damien had sired a daughter in whom his creepiness lived on. (Meanwhile, the TV-movie also revealed, no doubt unintentionally, that the Second Coming had had absolutely zero effect on the world, and that things were still ticking along as though nothing had happened.)
The world survived the end of the Mayan calendar yesterday, so we can now turn our attention to other prophecies and predictions regarding the end of the age. One of the most prominent is the premillenial dispensationalism that lies behind the Left Behind franchise, and, right on cue, it was revealed today that the producers of those films — who are currently in the midst of re-booting the series — are talking to Chad Michael Murray about playing Cameron “Buck” Williams, a part that was played in the original trilogy by Kirk Cameron.
Most of Murray’s work has been in television, so I am unfamiliar with nearly all of it, though apparently he was in the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday. I note, however, that this is not his first end-times movie; he was also in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001) as the teenaged younger brother of the Antichrist; Murray’s character eventually grows up to become the American president, as played by Michael Biehn, while the Antichrist, of course, grows up to be played by Michael York, who had starred in the earlier Omega Code (1999).
Many of the books, films, music and TV shows that make up the parallel universe of the Christian entertainment industry are keyed to the idea of Judgment Day. Odd, writes Peter T. Chattaway — the Rapture is a modern concept with virtually no basis in the Bible
Until it was released in theatres in the United States three weeks ago, Left Behind — an apocalyptic thriller filmed in Ontario and based on a best-selling series of novels by evangelical authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins — was heavily promoted as the breakthrough film that Christian movie buffs had long been waiting for. The eight books in the series to date have sold over 30 million copies, and the film, which stars former teen idol Kirk Cameron as a TV journalist and Flight of the Intruder star Brad Johnson as an airline pilot, reportedly cost $17.4 million to make — though how much of that was spent on promoting the film, and not on the actual production, is a matter of some debate.