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What's Behind the Recent Faith Based Movies

on . Posted in Perspective

doveIn 1990 Dick Rolfe began to provide a service for families that were disappointed in the lack of family-friendly films. “We were frustrated because we felt inadequate to make selections on behalf of our children and without watching the films themselves beforehand. And we didn’t trust the Motion Picture ratings; G, PG, PG-13 and R.” So Mr. Rolfe and several other parents started reviewing movies and assigning their own ratings to them and developed a content listing which included categories for sex, language, violence, drugs, nudity, and an “other” category which covered disrespectful attitudes, the occult, and any other familial concerns. This was the birth of The Dove Foundation. Today, The Dove Foundation’s Seal is easily recognizable on DVD packages in a variety of stores, in addition to providing reviews on major theatrical and DVD releases at their website,

Mr. Rolfe recently spoke with us about the recent influx of Christian-oriented films and his feelings about what is happening in Hollywood.

Q: Dick, with these recent increases in faith based movies, such as "God's Not Dead" and "Son of God" and "Heaven is Real" and "Noah", what is going on in Hollywood?

Hollywood producers are not original thinkers and this move to religious films is a less a step of faith than follow the leader.  When some category or genre pays off for one film, everyone jumps on the bandwagon. The results are “film eras.”  The genesis of the religious era began with the unprecedented success of The Bible Mini-Series on TV Easter of 2013. That was followed by an impressive run of Son of God and continues with half a dozen religious-themed movies over the next 12-15 months. That era was preceded by a rash of comic book heroes like Spider-man, The Avengers, Transformers and Fantastic Four. Before that came a litany of stories featuring witches, goblins, and vampires such as the Harry Potter and Twilight series. 

Q: Dick, why are these movies coming now and being released at this particular time?

There is plenty of evidence that people of faith are finally stepping up and supporting films that are authentic and represent their beliefs. A couple of noted examples are The Blind Side and Soul Surfer which were major studio releases that performed better than expected. This was reinforced by Sherwood Baptist Church’s Sherwood Pictures and their uncanny success with micro-budgeted Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous. The faith-friendly legacy continues with God’s Not Dead and Heaven is for Real.

Q: What are Christians that work in the film industry saying to you these days about these films?

Believers who work in the industry are elated by the new and exciting messages that are coming out of Hollywood. Even movies that are not strictly faith-based but cause-oriented are being taken seriously. Examples are stories that call attention to human trafficking like Veil of Tears and Not Today. 

Q: Is this trend going to continue? Do you know what is "in the works" as far as faith-based films?

Like all trends, the Bible epic era will eventually be replaced by some other unknown genre. However, the more subtle faith-friendly movies will prevail over a long time to come. They are easier to produce at a much smaller financial risk than the big $100 million+ blockbusters.

Q: Is the fact that a film like "Noah" is made, which does stray from the Biblical text, yet includes some of the original story, a good thing or not so good?

Noah is an outlier in this subject. Its success at the box office is attributable to the controversy and related hype that was generated, not its accurate interpretation of the Bible account of the Second Adam. (Opening weekend actually performed below the industry estimates of $60 million by coming in at $44 million.)  Believers will go to the movie to see just how far afield it is from the Bible account. The rest of the movie-going public will go to see what all the fuss is about. The upside is that the Noah “experience” will generate conversation that can be helpful in attracting people to read the Bible.

There is more to come. In addition to the recent release of Son of God and God’s Not Dead, April 16 will bring the release of Heaven is for Real. In June the remake of Left Behind arrives, starring Nicolas Cage. In December, Exodus is released, which is a remake of The Ten Commandments and stars Christian Bale as Moses. There is also a rumor about a possible remake of Ben Hur being on the drawing boards. This current trend could open up a lot of opportunities for the Bible to be shared with others.


0 # John Hulett 2014-04-08 11:08
Great article. I am thankful for men of faith & vision like Dick Rolfe who is watching & providing Christian consumers accurate information about Hollywood to help us make better movie going/watching decisions.
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0 # Editor 2014-04-08 12:31
John, Thanks for the comment, Dove is making a difference in today's culture.
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