What the Future Holds for the Christian Movies Market
Based on “previews” from the decade that’s almost a wrap, Christian movies are likely to be main attractions in the 2020s. Data and trend researcher Stephen Follows predicts Christian movies will continue to be “hugely profitable,” despite critics who tend to be “less than kind.”
Lokkesmoe predicts more subgroups will emerge within the market, saying, “There’s riches in the niches.” And as more movies target various Christian interests, audience tastes will continue to be refined. Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, which distributed I Can Only Imagine, says viewers have become “much more discerning” now that “so many movies” have been made for them. Audiences, he adds, will choose films “that not only have a strong Christian message but are bigger-feeling, more studio-type films.”
Expect more multimedia tie-ins, as evidenced by breakout titles about chart-topping books and songs. The Erwin brothers’ new Kingdom Studios, in partnership with Lionsgate, is preparing for the March release of I Still Believe, a biopic about best-selling Christian musician Jeremy Camp.
Such partnerships are helping Christian filmmakers expand their reach. Alex and Stephen Kendrick, creators of films such as War Room and Overcomer, have a deal with Sony, while preacher and producer DeVon Franklin has teamed with Fox.
Franklin says viewers crave more material such as his company’s Heaven Is for Real and The Star. He debunks the misconception that the Christian audience lives only “in the red states.” His job—and that of everyone in the faith-based film business—he says, is to bridge the gap and prove to Hollywood the strong potential of these movies.
Speaking to WordandWay.org, Franklin says, “Ultimately, as the right movies are developed and people find them, it’ll allow for even more new filmmakers and new films that may not currently be on the radar to emerge.”
Streaming has become a game-changer, too, yet Scott of PureFlix cautions that the message must remain front and center. “You have to drive the message first and then wrap an organic story around [it],” he says. Another trend he notes is the “aspirational” market, or moviegoers who are eager to bring about change. PureFlix recently created a new division for these films, allotting budgets as high as $30 million per title.
Lokkesmoe, president of Aspiration Studios, says the aspirational audience doesn’t typically vote Republican but is “more artistic, younger, and less political.” He tells Business Insider, “We’re seeing a lot more funders and people thinking beyond how to find an audience that is out there for whatever topic or issue.”
As more 21st-century moviegoers discover Christian movies, expect opportunities to abound for sharing the gospel message.