Why 2014 is the year of the Christian movie

Six faith-based films have debuted or will debut in 2014, making Hollywood appear to be indulging the desires of Christian moviegoers.

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Box office success — financial pay-off and overall positive reviews — ought to be an indicator to production companies that 200 million identifying Christian Americans like a positive and encouraging faith-based message just as much as an action-packed secular film, if not more.

The well-received movies continue to make hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. While 2014 may be the year of the Christian movie, it’s possible that this is not a trend but more of a makeover to the industry, in appealing to what the majority of audiences want to see on the big screen.

These moviegoers can also appreciate relevant characters and believable plots that paint Christians in a normal, everyday light instead of gospel-preaching, Jesus freaks that many mainstream movies have made them out to be.

“If Hollywood does a film featuring a gay character, the gay community wants that character not to be a caricature. They want it to be real,” said Christian media consultant Phil Cooke. “If it’s an environmentalist, a feminist, whatever the special interest group, they want to be portrayed accurately and it’s totally understandable. In the same way, Christians want Bible stories to be biblically accurate.”

1. Son of God

Release Date: Feb. 28
Budget: $22,000,000
Revenue: $58,969,640
Summary: Mark Burnett and Roma Downey produced this film out of a 10-hour 2013 History Channel miniseries, “The Bible.” At nearly two and a half hours long, this drama takes a look at the life of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection. Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in his adult years.

2. God’s Not Dead

Release Date: March 21
Budget: $2,000,000
Revenue: $41,459,838
Summary: Shane Harper, Kevin Sorbo and David A.R. White star in an independently produced movie that shows the experiences of a college freshman student who must give a presentation persuading his classmates that God is not real. The student cannot refuse the project and has to confront his professor, belief in God and decide how he will handle this challenge. Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson make guest appearances in the film.

3. Noah

Release Date: March 28
Budget: $125,000,000
Revenue: $246,872,000
Summary: Russell Crowe plays the role of Noah in this Paramount interpretation of the well-known story in the Old Testament of a 40-day flood that swept away everything and everyone in its path except for one righteous man, his family and all the animals he could fit into his ark. The movie has been criticized for not portraying the Bible correctly but some pastors have used the visual accessory to spark debate and discussion within their church bodies.

4. Heaven Is For Real

Release Date: April 16
Budget: $12,000,000
Revenue: To be determined
Summary: In 2010, Christian pastor Todd Burpo wrote a bestselling novel about his four-year-old’s near-death experience. “A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” was converted into a movie by TriStar pictures, which hopes to score big with Easter crowds over the holiday weekend.

5. Hoovey

Release Date: Summer 2014
Summary: Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum oversees EchoLight films, who are currently in the works of producing Hoovey. The film is based on a true story about a high school basketball player’s struggle to beat a brain tumor.

6. Gosnell

Release Date: Late 2014 – Early 2015
Summary: Documentary filmmakers have created a Go Fund Me page, hoping to crowdfund $2.1 million in order to hire the necessary people to make a movie about the thousands of babies that Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell illegally birthed and then killed. The campaign is on goal to raise adequate funding with one month left for donations to continue rolling in.

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