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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

Dynamic Times in Christian Cinema

Wow, there's so much going on right now in the faith-based genre that it can mean only one thing: the Lord is on the move!

A social media post announcing the three-month countdown to "Overcomer." Image from the film's Instagram page.

That the Christian movie/TV business is growing in significance is not a new or unexpected development. Christian Film Blog attended a screenwriting conference at UCLA several years ago where one of the speakers, an Oscar-winning producer in the secular film realm, named the faith-based genre as one he thought would enjoy energetic expansion in the medium to long-term.

Jon & Andrew Erwin. Image from the "I Still Believe" Instagram page.

It would seem he was right and we are now in the thick of it. The two top dogs, as it were, among Christian filmmakers - the Kendrick Brothers and the Erwin Brothers - are both currently doing what they do best: making movies. The latest picture from the Kendricks, Overcomer, is currently in post-production and will hit theaters in exactly three months, while, last week in Alabama, the Erwins kicked off production of their next film, I Still Believe, which comes out in March, 2020.

But you don't have to wait for either of those to enjoy studio-level, quality movies that are faith-based. Breakthrough, from Christian producer DeVon Franklin, has been out for five weeks now and earned $39 million in revenue and it is still regularly finishing just outside the Top-10 at the box office. This is a big-budget picture with big-name actors like Topher Grace, Chrissy Metz and Mike Colter and a soundtrack featuring four Grammy winners, including country music superstar Carrie Underwood.

And how about Unplanned? The pro-life film from the writer/director team of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon - the duo behind the God's Not Dead franchise - has performed beyond expectations, bringing in $18 million on a budget of $6 million. And it has done that in the face of concerted efforts to suppress it by pro-abortion forces.

There is some well-made lower budget fare out there right now, too, including the romantic comedy Faith, Love & Hope, from Christian writer/director/actor Robert Krantz, and Play the Flute by writer/director Rich Christiano, a veteran of the faith-based movie scene. Plus, half a dozen other Christian films have already wrapped up their theatrical runs this year, including The Least of These, Palau: The Movie and Run the Race.

In each of the last two years, the faith-based genre has generated more than $125 million in domestic box office revenue, which is significant (it's still a drop in the bucket, though, compared to the overall annual US box office of $11-plus billion). Despite all the good Christian films out right now, this year may actually be down a bit: total revenue so far stands around $70 million, but the releases were front-loaded in the first six months and Overcomer is the only movie left that will have a wide release, meaning it will have to do really, really well to push everyone over the $125 million mark.

Dallas Jenkins gives an interview about "The Chosen." Image from the show's Instagram page.

But it's not just feature films making waves: there is a rising tide of TV/streaming series out there as well. Christian director Dallas Jenkins recently released the first four episodes of season one of his show about the life of Jesus, The Chosen...that's the one that is now the all-time top crowdfunding media project, faith-based or otherwise. There is a mini-series currently in production about George Washington - and God's role in his early life - called Washington's Armor, and Pure Flix is cranking out new shows so fast for their streaming platform that we can't keep up with them.

In a word, it's a great time to be involved in the Christian movie business, because God is clearing the way and our brothers and sisters are boldy walking across the dry sea bed.


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