God and Hollywood: Have Movies Improved Since “The Passion of the Christ”

One week ago, beer-drinkin’ believers gathered at Hale’s Brewery in Seattle to discuss The Passion of the Christ, “faith-based filmmaking,” and whether Mel Gibson’s movie heralded a new era for Christian filmmaking (as so many believed it would), or a new era in mediocrity and proselytizing.

Sorry, the beer’s all gone. But the discussion still lives! Listen to Dick Staub, Greg Wright, Jennie Spohr, and me as we talk it over and respond to challenging questions at The Kindlings Muse!

Here’s the summary…

In a recent PBS special titled God and Hollywood (and filmed in part at The Kindlings Muse), Reporter Kim Lawton opened with these words.

In 2004, Mel Gibson’s controversial movie The Passion of the Christ took in more than half a billion dollars. Film studios began looking for the next big hit to rake in what became known as the Passion dollars.

She goes on to say, there was a perception that Hollywood had finally found religion. Numerous new projects were launched.

But four years later, there still aren’t a lot of faith-based blockbusters on the big screen. Since The Passion of the Christ we have heard new terms like faith friendly, family friendly, faith fueled, Christian films, films for Christians…

What is a faith-fueled film?

Who is the Christian Audience and what do they want in a film?

What is happening and should happen between people of faith and Hollywood?

Here to discuss these questions are Jeffrey Overstreet film critic, author of Auralia’s Colors and Through a Screen Darkly, Jennie Spohr, film producer, producer of The Kindlings Muse reviewer with Past the Popcorn and Greg Wright Managing Editor of HollywoodJesus.com and Past the Popcorn.

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  • bobbinthreadbare

    I enjoyed your discussion on Hollywood produced movies, but I couldn’t help but feel that you gave independent Christian movies a bad rap.

    I blogged about it here:
    http://supercandid.blogspot.com/2008/06/god-hollywood-kindlings-muse.html

  • dlmoody

    I’ve been reading your column for months now and listened to the Kindlings muse pod cast today. This is a topic close to my heart and I wanted to let you know that there is a group of people out here in D.C. who have decided to do something about this. We have launched a Christian movie studio with the purpose of creating Hollywood caliber movies without giving up control of the message. A lot of our discussions have mirrored much of what you and your friends have said.

    I decided to join this group based on two of their goals. The first is to make Hollywood caliber movies, and to do so at the highest levels. This means that we will hire the best people to do the job. For now that means primarily non-Christians.
    The second part is that we have a branch dedicated to finding Christians in the filmmaking community with potential and raising them up to Hollywood standards.
    There is more to it than this, but these were the two parts that really resonated with me.

    The studio is called In Jesus Name Productions. If you want to know more go here: http://www.ijnp.com

    You really need to get in contact with Joe Bardwell who is heading this up.


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