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Can Hollywood keep the faith in faith-based films?

Published: Sunday, July 27 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 5 2014 1:26 p.m. MDT

While Hollywood “has evidently discovered Christians as a consumer demographic,” biblical stories and themes have long inspired filmmakers, said Thonda Burnette-Bletsch, a religion professor at North Carolina’s Greensboro College.

“The Bible has still exerted tremendous influence on art, literature and film in Western culture,” Burnette-Bletsch told the Washington Times. “Its influence has been felt in innumerable Christ figures and Moses figures. What is ‘The Lion King’ if not the Exodus story?”

Chris Aronson, distribution vice president at 20th Century Fox, said credibility in making and distributing faith-based films will be critical. “You can’t pull the wool over the faith-based audience’s eyes because they will see it and reject it,” Aronson told deadline.com. “And I think [“Son of God” producers] Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had ultimate credibility because they went directly to the opinion-makers in the faith-based community and showed that they had the goods.”

Whether to sustain the faith or to sustain the profits, this year is a make-or-break mark for religious-themed movies, says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, which measures television and movie-viewing statistics.

“This year, in a sense, is a test of the genre,” Dergarabedian told the Washington Times. “This year is going to decide, determine, the fate of the faith-based movies. I think it’s the last untapped genre to go mainstream.”

And so, if faith is in fact film’s final frontier, we ask that Hollywood continue to do the exploring, and to do so in good faith.

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