Faith-based films are rising in popularity this year, but a recent study shows that these movies may not be automatic money-makers from a Christian audience.
Faith Driven Consumer, an advocate group that specializes in measuring the habits and behaviors of American Christian consumers, released the first wave of its newest study showing that Biblical accurancy plays the biggest role in determining whether an American Christian is likely to see a faith-based movie.
In particular, the poll's data shows that 74 percent of American adults -- Christian and non-Christian -- are likely to see the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings film only if it is Biblically accurate. The movie, scheduled to hit theaters on December 12, stars Christian Bale as Moses and Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul as Joshua in an interpretation of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt's captivity. Just how much creative freedom was given to the writing team is yet to be seen, but if the disasterous reception of Russell Crowe's Noah film from earlier this year is any indication, Christian fans may be wary.
Faith Driven Consumer's research fortifies this point with further stats on what American Christians want in their Hollywood entertainment. While 77 percent of the American population identifies themselves as Christian, 80 percent of those Christians report Biblical accuracy as the number one factor they set for watching the upcoming film. In line with this, 69 percent of those Christians say that they would be unlikely to see the film if it is not true to the book of Exodus.
This research is important for Hollywood to note as it means that this growing audience is out for much more than just elaborate special effects and big-budget actors. Even the poor critical reception and low-budget cast of this year's God's Not Dead didn't deter Christians from earning the film $61 million worldwide in only 1800 theaters.
"Data shows that the filmmakers need to welcome and engage the faith community at both the pastor and the pew levels by seeking their input and earning their trust," said Chris Stone, Founder of Faith Driven Consumer. "If done correctly, Exodus could earn true blockbuster status and beat the box office record set by The Passion of the Christ ten years ago. If done poorly, it will be another massive missed opportunity."