Did you come to know Christ and the Gospel through watching any of these films - Mel Gibson's "Passion of Christ," "Ben Hur," "The Jesus Film"? If you didn't, you've probably know of someone who did. Today, megachurches are buying out multiplex theaters, so church members can invite their friends and neighbors to watch the 'Son of God' movie produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey as a community.
"It's very exciting to see this level of excitement around the movie," said James Meredeith, Cinemark's head of marketing and communications. "We've already scheduled a few large-scale theater buyouts for 'Son of God' in theaters across the country. The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tentpole or franchise movies."
Burnett, who has produced shows like "Survivor," "The Voice" and "Shark Tank," said he's never seen a buyout before.
"There aren't many things that could garner this kind of support," he said, according to the Washington Post.
Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Joel Houston (Lakewood Church), Craig Groescheul (LifeChurch), Archbishop Jose Gomez ((Archdiocese of Los Angeles), Miles McPherson (Rock Church), Jerry Falwell Jr. (Liberty University), Ray Johnston (Bayside Church) are some of the mega-church leaders who are renting out multiple theaters near their church campuses for members to watch the film together on Feb. 27, 2014.
Burnett and Downey, who are both committed Christians, have started soliciting the support of Christian leaders around the nation to watch this film since the debut of History Channel's "The Bible" miniseries, which has received more than 100 million cumulative views since its release in 2013.
"We love the Lord, we have loved doing this [movie] together. It's been a blessing in our marriage, but we need you now. We need your help to carry it," said the "Touched by an Angel" actress, Downey, at the film's pre-release screening held at Saddleback Church on Feb. 2. Hundreds of church leaders from southern California listened to her call.
"So if there's anything you can do to encourage people to come, this movie will touch hearts and when hearts are open, you know that grace can move in. So there's an opportunity with this film to really bring people to home with Jesus," she said.
The producer couple also saw the need for a curriculum to help viewers understand the movie's relevance to their lives, so they've requested New York Times best-selling author Rick Warren, who founded Saddleback Church and authored "Purpose-Driven Life," to write a study guide.
During this past weekend's service, Warren introduced the newly-created curriculum titled "Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You," which is a six-week study designed for small groups and comes in a DVD format, printed by LifeWay Press.
"I took scenes from the movie... Jesus baptism and importance of your baptism, Jesus' temptation and lessons for your temptation, Jesus suffering and what it means when you go through suffering, Jesus' death and your death, Jesus' resurrection and your resurrection, Jesus' ministry and your ministry," he described.
In the last 30 years, the megachurch pastor has launched new small group series every year, resulting in more than 8,000 small groups.
He said that the first time that he's used movie to launch a series in small groups was with "The Passion of Christ," which resulted in the small group's increase in size and number.
He explained that because the offered content was original, members were attracted to the small groups and ended up staying in study groups because of formed relationships.
Saddleback Church will buy out screens in more than eight different theaters throughout Orange County in Southern California.
"I've seen most of the films about Jesus produced in the past 50 years, and 'Son of God' is the best," he said, according to The Christian Post. "We're excited that Jesus is back on the big screen, and we're going to fill the theaters.
"I want every other faith leaders in America to do the same. Whether you can buy out a whole theater, or just one screen, now is the time to show up."
For Group Sales of 25 or more and to learn how to rent a local theater call 1-800-970-1858. More information can be found at http://www.sonofgodmovie.com