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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

Hollywood Distributors Refused to Release "Lifemark"

The Kendrick Brothers' new film is pro-adoption and pro-life, which spooked the big studios.

Rebecca Rogers Nelson and Kirk Cameron appear in a scene from "Lifemark."
Rebecca Rogers Nelson and Kirk Cameron appear in a scene from "Lifemark." Image: Kendrick Brothers productions.

Unlike nearly all the Kendrick Brothers' previous faith-based movies, Lifemark will not be distributed by Sony Pictures Affirm Films, or any other Hollywood studio for that matter. The Georgia duo of Alex and Stephen Kendrick will instead release this picture through Fathom Events, a limited-engagement joint venture between the theater chains AMC, Cinemark and Regal.

The Kendricks, former pastors and among the top filmmakers in the Christian genre, were all for the traditional release route via a big studio distribution partner - as they've done with past box-office hits like Fireproof, War Room, and Overcomer - but there were no takers. In an interview with Christian Headlines, Alex Kendrick makes clear the movie's pro-life message, and thus the anticipated negative reaction from pro-abortion forces, was the determining factor for the distributors, who were "scared of the response."

"It was interesting. When we shot this film, several of the studios that have courted us in the past, and wanted us to go with them as distributors, they all turned down this film...and so we said, 'It's okay,' so we would go to a second and a third studio and they all said, 'We want anything you got but this one.'"

The picture, which stars Kirk Cameron, is based on a true story of a young mother who gives her baby boy up for adoption only to meet him two decades later. So, while it is not primarily focused on abortion, it does address the choice between that grim fate for babies versus giving them life. Alex Kendrick, who has an on-screen role in the film and executive produces it with Stephen, says they endeavor to handle the issue with "grace," and "love."

"And we are acknowledging both sides. We're acknowledging the difficult decision to choose to place your baby for adoption, but it is the better decision. And we're also showing the adoptive parents and what a blessing and a joy, and the journey that they have to go through this."

The Kendrick Brothers and Kirk Cameron are each a father of six children, and Stephen adopted one of his daughters from China while four of Cameron's now adult children are adopted, meaning they have some personal insight into the issues at hand. Alex, for his part, feels the movie "is a beautiful picture of what it could look like to show compassion, to forgive, to minister and to give hope."

You'll be able to judge for yourself when Lifemark releases in some 1,400 theaters nationwide on September 9th for a seven-day run. Tickets are available via this link to Fathom Events and the trailer below will give you a better sense for the film.


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