Hollywood will be releasing a series of epic Bible films coming up in the next few years, beginning with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. Other scheduled films are Son of God, Mary Mother of Christ (from the makers of The Passion of the Christ), Ridley Scott’s Exodus, and a few others in the works.
Some of us who grew up watching Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments might be getting pretty excited about what looks to be a seismic shift in Hollywood. But what’s really going on here? Has Hollywood become more conservative or more Christian? No. They’re just beginning to understand a little better how easy it is to make money off of Christians. Here’s a few reasons why we’re an easy target:
- Marketing is easy with Christians. Get their pastors to endorse a film from the pulpit (and show a clip), and BOOM! instant blockbuster.
- Christians are used to really insulting, cheesy, badly-produced art. If you produce a movie with even nominally decent acting, passable direction, and better-than-average screenwriting, Christians will be crying huge tears of overwhelmed gratitude. They’ll see the movie twenty times and tell all of their friends it’s the best movie ever made. If they did that with Courageous, imagine what they’ll do with Noah? It will be epic.
- America is filled with nominal Christians who want vague family values and Christianese so they can feel good and fuzzy at the movies with the families they otherwise generally neglect. These Christians haven’t read the Book for the most part, so they won’t have that much of a problem if screenwriters take enormous poetic license with the content. In other words, Noah is allowed to be the world’s first environmentalist and the Flood is allowed to be a merely natural disaster, as long as the movie still makes me proud to be an American Christian.
The explosion of animated films following the success of Pixar indicates just how big a market there is for “family” entertainment. And I imagine much of that is due to American Christianity. Hollywood is apparently just making that connection, and they are rolling out a slew of Bible films hoping to cash in. And they probably will.
But I’m hoping they don’t. I’m sick of Christian America being preyed upon by profiteers. We’re easy. We believe all things. We’re gullible. We’re the weak. But all these Bible films really boil down to peddling the Gospel. It’s mercenary, and I hate it. I think the motives here are important. Hollywood doesn’t care about the truth of the Gospel. They want your money. That is all. I prefer to give my money to people who actually believe in what they’re selling.