Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How Christians Are Facing The Giants Of Hollywood

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A big budget film---$50 million---titled, "David and Goliath," is coming and the producers are promising that the film will be "biblically correct in every way."

Variety, one of Hollywood's two most influential trade magazines, announced yesterday that Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, who produced "The Bible" series and the recent "Son of God" film, have been contracted by MGM-Paramount to produce the re-make of "Ben-Hur."

Fox has also announced a new television show based on the early years of Jesus.

Several other Christian themed movies and television shows are in the works.

MGM-Paramount is suggesting, by their actions, they have learned a lesson from past mistakes regarding the Christian community and the "NOAH" film.

Hollywood's actions also suggest they have been watching the box office reports on Christian themed entertainment. They have discovered there are more than a few of us.

But Christians have delivered a message to the massive entertainment industry. And they've done so with conviction. And with their dollars.

There is a "David and Goliath" story in that as well.

Variety first announced the $50 million remake of Ben-Hur, but it was comments in a story published by the Christian Post, that caught my attention, because it reveals perhaps a parallel illustration to David and Goliath.

The organization, Faith Driven Consumers, was critical of the movie "NOAH" from the beginning, as we were in this daily column.

I never felt comfortable with the way Noah was characterized as a drunken man unsure of what he actually believed, an extreme environmentalist, and someone obsessed with over population, actually considering slaughtering his own family.

Many Christians didn't bother to go see it---I was one of them--- and many of those who did generally encouraged others to not see it, feeling it was offensive to Judeo-Christian values. And certainly not consistent with the biblical account.

Chris Stone, founder of FDC said, "If Faith Driven Consumers were a core target for NOAH, Darren Aronofsky was the wrong choice. Having left untold millions on the table with that film, Paramount appears to have learned from its mistakes and to be taking a completely new approach with the upcoming remake of BEN HUR by signing producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey."

Lesson learned? Hopefully.

Another take away from the NOAH film could cause pastors, some with considerable influence, to be more discerning in endorsing and promoting films simply because they have a "biblical" theme.

Frankly I was disappointed to see some pastors encouraging their congregations to go see "Noah" if "you are not too religious." I wrote about it at the time.

If they want our money and want to use so-called "biblically themed" titles and story lines, at least they should not undermine the Judeo-Christian values of the Bible.

And if they do, don't go see their movie.

Hollywood seems to be getting the message. There is a significant interest in Bible based films, but people of faith are much more informed and discerning than Hollywood originally thought.

The new film "David and Goliath", which is just going into production, seems to be taking the right steps. And the people making the film "get it" because they are one of us.

Tim Chey, director on "David and Goliath," says the movie will be biblically correct in every way.

Chey says he was once an atheist but while in a hotel room in Manila, he began to read a Bible the Gideons had placed in the room. That was his turning point. He says he never looked back after that experience. He accepted Christ. His life and his work has changed.

He says his decision to do Christian films has not been easy. In March of 2012, he says he was becoming discouraged. "We were constantly being ridiculed by the secular media, our films were being sabotaged by online piracy and fellow Christians were acting out of jealously, undermining our films."

"However," he says, "thousands were coming to Christ as a result of our films, so I don't know why I allowed it to bother me, but I did."

He says during that time the "Lord showed me that it was a spiritual attack. I repented and began to trust the Lord again. Within two months, we raised millions of dollars and made the $20 million film 'Carry Me Home' (starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.) on the early life of John Newton, writer of 'Amazing Grace'."

Now he is beginning "David and Goliath."

He says he too is disappointed in the results when non-Christians make "Christian" type films, that's why "true believers have to step up and make the biblical films."

Christian Post asked him what he hoped to accomplish with this new film.

He said, "I want them to be moved to tears and increase their faith in the true and living God. I want them to stop being lukewarm. To make a stand for God. To slay the demonic giants who beseech us in life. I want them to leave the theater and say, 'I will make a stand for the Lord' and tell those giants, 'You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God'."

If Christians will act on conviction and Christian principle, we will be heard.

This narrative of Hollywood at least beginning to get it, could also be that of our elected leaders and our political system. There are several parallels.

The key component is conviction and action. And boldness. And becoming one voice on the most important issues.

We often see ourselves as David facing Goliath, with us as insignificant as David, but without the conviction and boldness and faith of the young David.

The sub-title to the film is, "Against All Odds, One Man Will Rise."

The question is not so much about the next movie, but about your next move.

Will you be that person to rise to the occasion and slay some giants? Or will you merely evaluate the giants and conclude you couldn't really make a difference anyway?

Be Bold. Be Strong. Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Pro-Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.