Watch: New TV spots and featurettes give Miracles from Heaven an Easter-themed push

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Easter is coming up this weekend, but the biggest “faith-based” movie at the box office isn’t one of the two Bible movies out there — instead, it’s Miracles from Heaven, which tells the story of a girl who was healed of a rare digestive disorder. The studio has released some new videos to promote the film as it enters its second week.

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Box office: Miracles from Heaven opens strong, and both of the season’s Bible movies drop out of the top ten

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Last week, there were two Bible movies in the top ten at the box office, and this week — as churches geared up for Palm Sunday — there were none. But a third film did give the broader “faith-based” genre its biggest opening in almost two years.

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Well, that’s one way to promote a “faith-based” film.

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Miracles from Heaven — the latest in a series of “faith-based” films about people who get a glimpse of the world beyond this one — opens this month, on March 16 to be precise. The film stars Jennifer Garner. To promote the film, Garner is now the subject of a cover story in Vanity Fair. And, as cover-story subjects sometimes do, Garner has participated in a video posted on the magazine’s website — and the video, in this case, consists of Garner reading the children’s-book parody Go the F**k to Sleep.

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Casting news: The Shack! Miracles from Heaven! Ben-Hur!

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Here are a few recent bits of casting news with a “faith-based” angle.

1. Sam Worthington has been cast as the lead in The Shack, Stuart Hazeldine’s adaptation of the William P. Young novel. Worthington will play a grieving father who meets God in the shack where the father’s murdered daughter was found. Octavia Spencer is already on board as one of the actors who will play God.

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Watch: New trailers, character profiles and more for A.D. The Bible Continues

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One day to go until the premiere of A.D. The Bible Continues. The producers have released a brand new trailer featuring scenes from across the entire series, as well as several new character profiles and more. Check ’em out below the jump.

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“We start with the message and build the story around it.”

In the past, I have sometimes said that, at the risk of oversimplification, there are three basic kinds of film: entertainment, propaganda, and art. Entertainment serves the selfish desires of the audience, and propaganda serves the selfish desires of the artist, but art, ideally, draws the artist and the audience out of themselves and into something other.

That may not be the best way of putting it — “selfish”, in particular, sounds a bit harsh — but I’ve never quite figured out a better but equally pithy way of phrasing it. In any case, the point here is that art, in its ideal form, is what happens when a filmmaker is intrigued by something and explores it, tries to see where it goes, and takes the audience along for the ride.

Most films are a mix of these things, of course, but some tilt in one direction more than the others. And sometimes, as we have seen with certain recent Christian films, audiences are actually entertained by propaganda; they want someone to preach at them, telling them what they already believe. And so the selfish desires of artist and audience alike are served by those films, and both sides are left unchallenged, which is the exact opposite of what art does within the definition above.

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