Churches promote Graham biographical film
A story appeared today about the Billy Graham biographical film that we heard about back in April this year. Starring Martin Landau, Armie Hammer and Lindsay Wagner, Billy: The Early Years tells just that, how the religious man came to be who he is.
Personally it doesn't interest me, but what did grab my eye was the way it was being marketed, and how they aren't so interested in screening for critics and garnering reviews since the church is going to market it for them.
It seems a little strange to me that the religious network of a church would be used as an advertising medium, but since they are a business anyway I guess it's not really that much of a surprise. However I just can't shake the feeling that it's a little off, perhaps that's just my idealistic viewpoint.
“evangelical 'opinion makers' across the Bible Belt”
Which comes to around fifty screenings in all in the next few weeks, building a hype within the evangelical community regarding the film and hoping to capture the Christian film audience.
One such screening at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg attracted some four and a half thousand people.
The Passion of the Christ and The Chronicles of Narnia (Filmstalker review) have both been films that have benefited from the Christian community's positive praise and endorsement of the films, and as the article states superbly well:
“Good reviews from critics are nice, but the thumbs-up producers of Christian films want most these days are from pastors urging their flocks to head for the theater.”
What better endorsement for a film about a preacher than having your own preacher tell you that you should go and watch it while in the place of worship. Doug Phillips, the founder of the Christian Filmmakers Academy and the 5-year-old San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
“Today, Christian filmmakers can count on a very savvy pastoral community that's looking to highlight films like these to their congregations”
Yeah, I get that, but at the same time isn't it just a marketing channel with one big captive audience already predisposed to like the film because it's religious based? Could it be considered a little unfair on the congregation that they don't get other films suggested to them week to week, perhaps The Dark Knight (Filmstalker review)?
I really don't see that happening. However with this film it almost guarantees positive reviews and poster quotes before the film comes out, and a captive and already primed audience to go and see it come opening weekend.
It's all about the marketing, and if the religious angle doesn't work for the film, they've got the Christian artist filled CD and the novelisation ready too.
Funnily though the most important audience hasn't yet seen Billy: The Early Years, Billy Graham and his family. Although copies of the film have been sent to Franklin Graham and he's watched it, he's been too busy to comment. The only member of the family who has is Gigi Graham, Billy's daughter, and she has been publicly praising it and has been hired as a consultant for the film.
So while man himself and his family have yet to see and comment on the film, the church preachers are being sought by the producers to market it for them, and the average churchgoer primed to head to the cinemas on opening weekend.