Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Movie Stars "Twilight" and "Hercules" Actors

Our (  Rebel Pilgrim ) new movie Hope Bridge begins shooting July 5th in Lexington, Kentucky. The movie stars Booboo Stewart (Twilight, X-men: Days of Future) and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Soul Surfer). Hope Bridge is the story of a high school boy (Stewart) dealing with grief and uncertainty following his father's suicide. It is produced in partnership with Infuse Pictures and Asbury University. Directed by Joshua Overbay, the film anticipates a 2014 theatrical release. The cast also includes Sam Jackson Sorbo (Chicago Hope), Fivel Stewart (Hansel and Gretel) and Tantoo Cardinal (Dances with Wolves.)

Harold Hay from Media Missionary School will serve as one of the film's producers. Hay has been involved with the project since December of 2011.

See more at

So You Want to Make a Movie - The Pitch

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker.

No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 20 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 7. The Pitch

Now that you have potential investors, how do you get them to sign on the dotted line? It all starts with a solid business and marketing plan. Your marketing materials should include a detailed analysis of the current independent movie market, how your film will be successful within that market, and a bio on yourself as well as your team members. You need to think this out. Who is your audience? What is the demographic group you are you aiming for? Can you compare similar successful films to your project? When investing in a movie, there are no guarantees; however, the goal is to give your film a reasonable shot to turn a profit.

There are two questions your investors will undoubtedly ask. Are there any well-known actors in your film, and do you have a distributer. First, getting a well-known actor attached to your project is unlikely because at this point you can’t afford one. You’re not making a big blockbuster so your budget is going to be well below a million dollars. In fact, if your budget is over a quarter of a million dollars, you’re not dealing with reality.

Can you convince your investors that you can attract a well-known actor to your project? It’s quite possible to obtain a “letter of intent” from an actor who has the kind of credits that would impress your potential investors. A “letter of intent” is not a contract. There are no commitments from either party. It merely states that your actor is interested in being in your movie. And, if you think about it, isn’t every actor interested in every part as long as he or she gets paid? Getting a “letter of intent” is not as hard to get as you might think. Find out who represents the actors you are interested in. Send him/her a script and a potential offer. It’s a bit of a fishing trip, but you never know who you might catch. Don’t aim for A-list actors. Put your sights on solid B-list actors, who are on their up or slightly past their prime.

How do you handle the issue of distribution? There’s an old saying within the film industry that applies to your situation. First you make the movie and then you make the deal. It’s never going to work the other way. But there is a way to show your investors that there are some distributors who have an interest in your film. The reality is every distributor will be interested in your movie if they can make money.

Start contacting distributors who work with films that are similar to the type of movie you are producing. Call the acquisition person and see if he/she will read your script. Ask for their input or advice. If you get some interest, they may actually write some script notes for you. There’s nothing in writing or a deal at this point, but by getting a distributor interested and involved in the development process, they get an opportunity to help shape a film that they feel could be potentially successful. Of course, you have to decide how much of their input you will include in your movie. It’s a fine line that you have to walk to keep them interested while maintaining control.

Your potential investors will undoubtedly love a little Hollywood hype and the royal treatment.So give it to them. Hire a movie theater and put together an event to showcase your project. Almost all theaters are available for rental in the mornings. Serve breakfast. Make sure all of your key members are there to do a meet and greet. Have some actors read a few scenes from your movie. Show some of the demo reels from your director and your cinematographer. As I said, everybody loves a little bit of Hollywood, especially in a town that seldom sees any film production.

Now you’ve set the table, and you can pitch your movie. The thing your investors want to know is can you pull this off. You have to convince them that you are an expert in the movie business. At the least, you need to know more than they do.

So You Want to Make a Movie - Finding the Money

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker.  No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 15 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 4. Reevaluation

Now that you’ve done your budget, you’re probably staring at a very big number, maybe, 7 figures. Ask yourself this question, can I raise that kind of money? You need to take another hard look at your budget. Start paring it down. What do you absolutely need to make your story work? It’s time to get real. Do you have too many locations, props, characters or special effects? Chances are something has to go.

If your screenplay calls for a desert location, can you rewrite the scene for a location that you can afford? Remember, everything in your script will cost money to shoot. Find alternatives. At the end of the day, it’s possible that the story you have chosen is just too expensive to produce; therefore, you will need to go back to the drawing board and find a simpler, small-scale story that is centered around a single location with only a handful of characters. Most first-time filmmakers or beginners usually think they can raise a ton of money. With no proven track record, that is unlikely to happen.

Step 5. Building Your Team

By this time, things are getting serious. You have some decisions to make. What position are you going to play in your movie? Up to this point, you’ve probably functioned as a producer and/or executive producer. Are you going to continue on in that position or bring in somebody to take over? It’s a big decision. Of course that depends on your budget. You could hire a production company to take care of everything. Then all you will have to do is raise the money.

It's important to build you team before you enter the fundraising and investor phase of your project. Who’s going to be your director and cinematographer? Can you get a named actor attached to your movie before the main casting takes place? This is all about building credibility. Step 5 is not about hiring every single crew member. All you need to do, is just get a few key people on board.

Here’s what’s probably going to happen. You’ll end up at the very least producing the film and maybe directing it as well. If you have never directed a film, it can be overwhelming. If at all possible, find a director and concentrate your efforts on producing the film. Don’t try to do it all.

Step 6. Finding the Money

Like most of us, I’m sure you don’t have deep pockets, but if you can self-finance your movie, you can skip this phase. However something tells me you’re going to continue to read on. Here’s the question I know you’re asking yourself. Where do I find the money to make my movie? Most first-time filmmakers finance their movie with the help of friends and family. That will probably get you started, but it will not meet all of your needs or raise enough money to make your movie.

It’s time to find some investors. By now, you should have established a limited liability company. By doing so, you will protect your assets and financial condition. Having an LLC allows you to seek investors. These investors will expect to get paid back with interest and make a profit. So where do you find investors? You could waste hundreds of dollars on books and videos that promise some magic formula. The truth is there is no magic formula. It’s just a gimmick to get your money.

Finding investors comes down to hard work, pounding the pavement, and shaking a lot of hands. It’s good old fashioned networking. It starts with the people you know, the people they know, and the people that these people know. I recommend that you attend every event, fundraiser and banquet you can get invited to. Everyone you come in contact with is a potential investor.

Christian Movie Connect Episode 78 – Blake Rayne

Musician and actor, Blake Rayne is new to the film world, but has years of stage experience and has recently worked as an indie recording artist. Currently, Blake resides in Nashville with an active career as a studio musician. In his acting debut, Blake plays dual roles in the new film, “The Identical” as both Drexel Helmsley and Ryan Wade.

In this interview, Rayne talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about his dual roles and debut in the upcoming film, “The Identical”.

“The Identical” is the story of twin brothers raised in different families struggling to find their purpose and destiny. Spanning five decades from the 1930′s through the 1970′s, this film is about the restoration and the reconciliation of a family broken apart by culture, creed and tradition.

Forecast: 'White House Down,' 'The Heat' in Race for Second This Weekend

Friday AM Update: White House Down earned $1.35 million from late Thursday shows, while The Heat took in around $1 million. Neither of these numbers are particularly remarkable, and the chance of a $40 million opening this weekend has deceased significantly.

Forecast: Thanks to massive debuts from Man of Steel, Monsters University and World War Z, June 2013 is on pace to be the highest-grossing June ever at the domestic box office. On the last weekend of the month, newcomers White House Down and The Heat are hoping to ride this positive wave to strong grosses. The movies each have appeal with recently-neglected female audiences, though it's unlikely either winds up high enough to takes first place away from Monsters University.

Opening at 3,222 locations, White House Down is the second "Die Hard in the White House" movie this year; the first was Olympus Has Fallen, which has earned $98.6 million since opening in March. On the surface, this would seem like an issue—why would audiences want to pay for essentially the same movie twice?—but historically that hasn't been the case.

A good example occurred way back in 1998 when Deep Impact and Armageddon opened two months apart. Deep Impact debuted first and took in $140.5 million, but with bigger names and better effects Armageddon ultimately wound up on top with $201.6 million. This is not to say that White House Down is guaranteed to earn more than Olympus Has Fallen; instead, it's merely an acknowledgement that opening second isn't a death sentence.

Sony's marketing effort for White House Down has, first-and-foremost, emphasized the talent involved. Stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are arguably at the peak of their popularity right now: Tatum is coming off a 2012 in which he starred in three $100 million movies, while Foxx just had the biggest hit of his career with Django Unchained ($162.8 million). Director Roland Emmerich also has a great box office track record, though it's debatable whether the fact that he directed The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 is a real selling point with audiences.

Content-wise, the marketing had a bit of an identity crisis early on. By highlighting an explosion at the Capitol Building and the downing of Air Force One, the first trailer positioned White House Down as classic Emmerich fare (i.e. iconic locations are destroyed). However, that's small-scale compared to Emmerich's past work—he was blowing up entire cities two decades ago—and the marketing quickly shifted to portraying the movie as a Tatum/Foxx buddy action comedy that happened to be set at the White House. While that's an appealing-enough set-up, it doesn't put the movie on track for blockbuster-level grosses initially.

Sony is expecting around $30 million for the weekend, which would be nearly identical to Olympus Has Fallen's $30.4 million start, but would be a step down for Tatum, Foxx, and Emmerich.

At 3,181 locations, buddy cop comedy The Heat looks like it may actually open higher than White House Down. Similar to White House Down's campaign, The Heat's marketing has emphasized its two top stars and its director. As an uptight FBI agent and a foul-mouthed Boston cop, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy both seem to be operating within their comedic wheelhouse here. That's good news, considering both have a strong box office track-record: Bullock's last comedy, The Proposal, opened to $33.6 million, while McCarthy is coming off a $34.6 million debut for February's Identity Thief.

Equally important is the fact that The Heat was directed by Paul Feig, whose last movie Bridesmaids earned an excellent $169.1 million and has gone on to gain an even bigger following in its post-theatrical window.

All of these elements suggest the movie will have big appeal with women, who have been seriously neglected over the past few months. It doesn't hurt that there's not a lot of competition right now: This is the End will bring in around $10 million this weekend, but otherwise there's nothing out there for comedy audiences.

R-rated comedy Ted opened against a Channing Tatum movie on the same weekend last year and took in $54.4 million. While The Heat's buddy cop premise isn't nearly as appealing as Ted bong-smoking teddy bear, it should still be in for a strong debut. Fandango is reporting that The Heat is leading all advanced ticket sellers, and is selling 50 percent more tickets than Bridesmaids at the same point. If that bears out for the weekend, The Heat will earn over $35 million (Fox is hoping to at least get to $30 million).

Forecast (June 28-30)
1. Monsters University - $44.8 million (-46%)
2. The Heat - $42.2 million
3. White House Down - $38.3 million
4. World War Z - $31.7 million (-52%)
5. Man of Steel - $20.3 million (-51%)

Bar for Success
Olympus Has Fallen opened to just over $30 million; with a Summer release, more star power and better visual effects, White House Down must open higher than this. If it hits $40 million, it will be in good shape. Meanwhile, The Heat is a winner if it can match Identity Thief's $34.4 million start.

Rick Santorum is new CEO of EchoLight Studios

Rick Santorum, 2012 Presidential Candidate and former U.S. Senator, is new CEO of EchoLight Studios, America’s Fastest-Growing Faith & Family Film Company

Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and GOP presidential candidate, is now CEO of EchoLight Studios, the first movie company to produce, finance, market and distribute faith-based, family films across all releasing platforms. Santorum announced his new venture Saturday, June 22, on FNC’s “The Huckabee Show.”

EchoLight’s upcoming first theatrical, THE REDEMPTION OF HENRY MYERS, is slated for a fall 2013 release. Meanwhile, EchoLight’s second theatrical is in post-production, a film based on the inspiring story of Illinois basketball player Eric “Hoovey” Elliott, starring Patrick Warburton and Lauren Holly, and directed by SOUL SURFER’s Sean McNamara, to release in 2014.

“This is the right place and right time, and I’ve jumped in with both feet,” Santorum said, having spent the past year helping EchoLight develop and grow. “I often say that culture is upstream from politics, and I know entertainment also can be strength and light for people who want to be uplifted and reinforced in their values.”

Santorum has high expectations for blowing open a burgeoning entertainment category. “Dallas can become the Hollywood of the faith-and-family movie market. And the keys are great content and economic success,” he said, “using money from all over to build out the industry and distribute an authentic product truthful to the faith in people’s lives.”
EchoLight’s commitment to new filmmakers already has impressive numbers:
  • a $250,000 commitment to produce and distribute a new work by the winner of the Short Film category in the 2013 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
  • a multi-year, multi-million agreement to produce films from Liberty University’s Cinematic Arts program with production wrapped on the first film from that effort
  • up to $1 million pledged to produce and distribute a new work from the Best Film winner in this year’s 168 Film Project.
EchoLight has a full pipeline of films with established directors and a growing cadre of “faith and family” stars as committed as the directors and producers.

“We’re in a position with potential to transform the industry,” Santorum said. “EchoLight is a wide door into movie excellence and to more of it–which is why we’re also helping to cultivate young filmmakers in the faith community, helping them develop cinema that, in many, many ways, can go further and do more.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So You Want to Make a Movie - Script and Budget

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker. There is no shortage of books, videos, and online resources to help get you started.

An entire cottage industry on how to produce a film has popped up overnight. It seems everybody is trying to make a buck today offering their inside filmmaking secrets. Some of the stuff out there is excellent, but a lot of it is a waste of your money. So where do you begin?

The task seems overwhelming. No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 15 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 1. Motivation

Nobody will care about your movie or project more than you will. Are you motivated enough to see it through to the end? Making a movie is a lot like going to war. There will be a lot of battles to fight. Some you win. Some you lose. Do you have the drive and determination? Do you believe in the project? Can you sell it? You have to be the visionary. If you don’t believe in your movie, nobody else will. Do you have the charisma necessary to convince people your project will be successful? Can you continue to stay motivated when you don’t have the budget up front or the outcome of your movie may offer little or no commercial success?

Step 2. The Script

Of course, everything starts with a script. You don’t have a movie unless something is written down on paper. So where does the script come from? You have three options. Either you write the script, commission someone to write it, or you obtain a spec script. Every year over 130,000 screenplays are registered with the Screen Actors Guild. So there’s no shortage of scripts. You need to ask yourself, can I write a great screenplay, or recognize a great script when I read it.  How do you know if you have something that can be turn into a great movie? You need honest feedback from people you trust, not what you want to hear but an unbiased opinion.

Without a great script, there is no point in moving forward. Here are questions you need to ask yourself. Do you scenes work? Do any of the lines in your script sound plausible coming out of the mouths of real people? Are the parts so difficult that you need great actors you can’t afford? What do the characters mean to you? Do they have depth? Is there any truth in what they say or do? If there is, how do I know this? And don’t settle for the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd version of your script. Rewrite is your friend. Learn to love it. It’s the only way your script is going to improve. And don’t be afraid to bring other scriptwriters in to help you in the process.

Step 3. The Budget

What does it cost to make a movie? Do you know? Have you done your research? How much do you have to pay your actors and crew? How long will it take to shoot your film? How many pages can you shoot per day? What does equipment cost? What about location, wardrobe, transportation, food, props, lighting, and grips. As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. If you don’t know what the fair market value of the things necessary to make a movie, you’re shooting yourself in the foot That’s why you need a detailed, line-item budget.

A budget starts with a script breakdown, which is an analysis of all the elements contained within a script. By using colored pencils or markers, make a key that tells you exactly what each color represents. Go through the entire script scene by scene and highlight each of the elements in the appropriate color. For example, elements include locations, vehicles, SFX, stunts, wardrobe, props, set dressing, cast members, crew, camera equipment, lighting, etc.

Script breakdown helps you define what elements you have to pay for, what you can find for free, and when it has to be there and at what time. Go through your script and decide what is absolutely necessary. Decide what is extraneous for the script, story and characters.

Another question you have to consider when putting together a budget is whether or not your movie is union or nonunion? If it is union, which guilds are you planning to register with? This will have a major impact on your overall budget.

No budget is complete unless you’ve thought about which distribution channels you are pursuing. Are you looking for a theatrical release, straight-to-video, or an online streaming provider?

Weekend Report: 'Monsters' and Zombies Both Win On Busy Weekend

Coming off Man of Steel's record-breaking opening last weekend, it seemed unlikely that both Monsters University and World War Z would score strong debuts this weekend. Ultimately, that assumption proved very wrong: Monsters University had one of Pixar's highest openings ever, while World War Z crushed even the most generous expectations. The loser here was Man of Steel, which took an abnormally large drop against this tough competition.

Overall, the Top 12 earned $232.4 million, which makes this the eighth-highest-grossing weekend ever at the domestic box office.

Playing at 4,004 locations, Monsters University took the top spot with $82.4 million. That's Pixar's 14th-straight number one debut (a perfect batting average), and it ranks as their second-highest opening ever behind 2010's Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million). However, it did sell slightly fewer tickets than predecessor Monsters, Inc., whose opening weekend adjusts to over $87 million.

Monsters University
always seemed like a slam dunk—Pixar has a fantastic box office track record, and the characters from Monsters, Inc. are some of the more popular ones in their library. By setting this entry in college, it was differentiated from its predecessor and had added appeal for older audiences (who ultimately make the ticket-buying decisions). Finally, after Epic failed to really take off last month, Monsters University was able to benefit from a market that was begging for a family-friendly choice.

The movie's audience was 56 percent female, and 60 percent were 25 years of age and under. As usual with family movies, 3D ticket sales accounted for an incredibly low share of the gross (31 percent).

Pixar movies typically hold on well after opening weekend, and Monsters University should generate good word-of-mouth (it received a solid "A" CinemaScore). A final tally over $230 million is a guarantee at this point—there's no way it hangs on worse than Cars 2—though it could take a major hit when it goes up against Despicable Me 2 in less than two weeks.

Proving once and for all that average audiences couldn't care less about behind-the-scenes drama, Paramount's beleaguered zombie epic World War Z scored an excellent $66.4 million in its opening. That's the second-highest second place debut ever behind The Day After Tomorrow ($68.7 million). It's also the highest start ever for a Brad Pitt movie ahead of 2005's Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3 million), and it's ahead of past June mid-range hits Prometheus ($51.1 million) and Wanted ($50.3 million).

From a press standpoint, the story on World War Z was always about the troubled production, which went way over budget and ultimately resulted in an entire act three reshoot. The vast majority of moviegoers don't pay attention to such things, though, and instead make their buying decision simply on whether or not the movie looks appealing. With massive real-world destruction, a movie star (Brad Pitt) operating within his wheelhouse, and reviews that were fine enough, this wound up looking like perfect escapist entertainment for a hot Summer weekend.

World War Z
's audience was 51 percent female and 67 percent were 25 years of age or older; one has to think Pitt's presence helped skew the data in those directions. The movie earned a fine "B+" CinemaScore—with lots of competition on the way, this probably won't hold up too well, though a $140 million domestic total is a lock at this point.

In third place, Man of Steel added $41.3 million. That's off 65 percent from last weekend—68 percent if you roll in grosses from the Thursday ahead of opening day. The 65 percent decline is worse than The Incredible Hulk (60 percent) and only slightly better than notoriously front-loaded comic book movie Green Lantern (66 percent), which is not a flattering comparison. Still, at $210.1 million it's already topped the final tally of Superman Returns ($200 million); if the bleeding slows down next weekend, the movie could still ultimately wind up with over $300 million.

On strong word-of-mouth, This is the End eased 36 percent to $13.3 million. Through 12 days, the apocalypse comedy has grossed $58.1 million. Meanwhile, Now You See Me had another great hold—the movie dipped 29 percent to an estimated $7.8 million, and has so far earned $94.5 million.

The Bling Ring
expanded to 650 locations this weekend and stole away with $2 million. Its per-theater average was $3,080, which was below Spring Breakers's $4,401 average during its nationwide expansion.

Around-the-World Roundup

While Man of Steel fell off at the domestic box office, it thrived overseas this weekend. The movie expanded in to 52 markets and added $89 million. That includes a strong $25.5 million debut in China, and good starts in France ($8.2 million) and Spain ($4.4 million). It was less impressive in Germany ($3.8 million) and Italy ($2.3 million), though neither were disappointments either. The movie has already earned $188.3 million, which is just a bit lower than Superman Returns's $191 million; it reaches Australia next weekend, Brazil in July, and Japan in August.

Monsters University
debuted to $54.5 million from 35 markets this weekend, which represents about 48 percent of its potential. Unfortunately, Disney did not provide details on individual territories.

World War Z
opened in around 30 percent of its foreign markets and earned an estimated $45.8 million this weekend. It took first place in South Korea with a great $10.3 million, and also performed well in the U.K. ($7.1 million) and Australia ($5.5 million). Next weekend, the zombie thriller expands to Germany, Italy, Russia, Brazil and Mexico.

Nearly two weeks ahead of its U.S. debut, Despicable Me 2 opened to $6.4 million in Australia. It expands in to a few more markets—including the U.K. and France—next weekend, the reaches the majority of its foreign territories over the July 5th weekend.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Does Hollywood know a thing or two about how to make movies ?

Media and entertainment is America’s number one export. I think it’s safe to say that Hollywood knows a thing or two about how to make movies and television shows. What do they know that Christians don’t know about making movies? Over the last few years, we have seen an explosion in Christian films. But has the quality increased? Many would agree that there is something lacking in the overall artistic and technical aspects. Is it the writing? The cinematography or the acting?

Perhaps if we had more money, our product would look better. Undoubtedly, the production value would increase. We’d have the time to get more shots. We’d have access to better cameras and equipment, and we could pay for better actors. Maybe, we could bring a writer or two on board to rewrite our scripts.

But I think money is only part of the answer. If we had all of the resources at our disposal, I have a feeling there would still be something lacking, something not quite right. There are many intangibles at work. First of all, are we telling the right stories? Do we really understand the filmmaking process and what films are capable of? Are we so focused on giving all of the answers, that we’re not asking the right questions? What if we focused our attention away from Christian films and concentrated more on redemptive or transformational stories?

Hollywood knows how to tell a good story. And they have been doing it for years. Here are ten secrets they have realized about telling good stories that are capable of impacting the human heart.

Here are 10 guidelines that mainstream filmmakers understand about making redemptive films.

1. Your movie must have entertainment value. People watch films to be entertained. Some Christians have made entertainment a dirty word. When people watch films and television, they are relaxed and more receptive to the message contained within the story. Often, they will reexamine their lives or be challenged to be a better person.

2. Filmmaking is an art form. The art must come first. For most Christians, the message is first. Audiences will not accept this and will see it as a form of propaganda. We must recognize that the divine can be found in art. We understood this for centuries. But, somewhere along the way, we have forgotten this. Film is not a good forum for a 5-point sermon. If we make great art, it has the capacity to move the human heart.

3. Films need to have an emotional impact. Emotions move people; therefore, our characters need to be believable as well as our dialogue. Nobody will accept the redemptive process if you are not successful in taking them through the emotional journey involved in the process of change.

4. Films work better with metaphors and symbolism because you keep the audience engaged in the story. This is a concept that most Christian filmmakers have failed to understand. Metaphors and symbolism help to forge connections between dissimilar objects and themes. We need to realize our audience has the intelligence to figure it out on their own. Stop telegraphing every story element or plot point. Remember, Jesus said in his parables the Kingdom of God is like….

5. Films are a great forum to ask questions. Christians love to ask questions, but unfortunately, we also love to give all the answers. We really don’t want our audience to have to think for themselves. This doesn’t work for film. Jesus used parables as his principle storytelling technique. He often asked questions, but he seldom gave they answers. It was his audience’s responsibility to find the answers.

6. Redemptive films need to illustrate the wonders of God. As Christians we don’t do this very well in film. When it come to miracles, angels, the unexplained, healings or the story of the loaves and fish, our stories seem to be flat, one-dimensional and lacking depth. Perhaps we’re too close to the subject material. NonChristians for some reason seem to be much better at this. For example, Jesus of Nazareth, produced in 1977 for television, is exceptional at exploring the wonders of God. It is a difficult concept to explain, but they do it with simplicity, humanity and the divine in such a way that it moves you.

The wonders of God can also be found in the small things of everyday life which are truly the miracles. We can find the divine patterns of life that exist in the smile of a child and the dawning of a new day. Christian filmmakers often don’t know how to depict the glorious, marvelous and small wonders of God’s grace and love which occur daily in our lives.

7. Redemptive filmmaking requires the ability to question God. We Christians have a tough time doing this. We don’t want to admit we have doubts and are sometimes confused. Perhaps, we think it is a sin to question God. But that’s not Biblical. Jacob’s name meant deceiver, but his name was changed to Israel meaning one who struggles with God. This happened after the all-night wrestling match at Peniel. We have to ask questions. Where is God when we are hurting? Why do bad things happen? As filmmakers, we have to be willing to ask these questions. If our goal is to be authentic, real and genuine, our audience is asking the same questions. Let’s face it. Christian filmmakers paint a world the way they want to see it. Mainstream filmmakers paint life’s complexities and the world as it is.

8. The need for redemption requires us to face sin. NonChristians may not call sin, sin, but they are good at depicting it. There is no redemption in the filmmaking process without the ability to portray sin. Our audience will not accept the fact that our characters have gone through this incredible transformation without seeing what their lives looked like before the transformation. They have to see the ugliness. We have all gone through the same experience. Life isn’t always pretty. That doesn’t mean we offer gratuitous, offensive material just for the sake of showing it. But it is part of the journey to redemption. I know for some Christians, this is a difficult concept to accept. But here is something to consider. The Bible is a story of the human condition without God and does contain content that some may find disturbing. We are afraid that if we show sin we are somehow endorsing it. Most Christian filmmakers want their hero or protagonist to be flawless not at the end of the redemptive process but at the beginning.

9. Filmmaking is a visual medium. The key to making great films is to think visual. How do we visually illustrate the personification of art? How do we express emotions—anger, frustration, indifference, internal struggles? Redemptive stories require expressing the intangible in a tangible, visual form.

10. Redemptive stories do not necessarily offer a convenient and tidy ending. Just as in life, there may not be a fairy tale ending as in “they lived happily ever after”. For example, in Bella, it would have been temping to end the movie with a happy and satisfying conclusion. However, both lead characters had their moments of redemption, which were more reflective of real life. Redemption is a complex process and is different for each of us.

Bottom Line

You can be a media missionary wherever God decides to plant you. The most important thing to discover is what God is saying to you. Christian filmmakers don’t necessarily have to go to Hollywood to make redemptive films. When we, as filmmakers, forget about our agenda or what we think a Christian movie should look like, then I am convinced God will be able to speak to us. How God is at work in people’s lives is the best inspiration for making movies and media that can reflect his glory and truth. We do not need to create Christian cinema or a Christian film industry. It serves no purpose. God is already at work in the film and media industry. As always, he requires our obedience to serve his will and his interests.

Christian Movie Connect Episode 77 - Yochanan Marcellino

Yochanan Marcellino is the Founder, President and CEO of City of Peace Media and City of Peace Films, both ‘sister companies’ with the purpose of providing a framework where music, films and video with redeeming value can be developed, produced and distributed worldwide, bringing a message of hope, love and encouragement to this generation. Over the course of his accomplished career in the music industry for nearly 40 years, Yochanan has worked with many successful artists. His transition to film began when he worked with his father, legendary music producer, Jerry Marcellino, during the big years of Motown Records. His new film, “The Identical” is scheduled for theatrical release in the fall of 2013.

In this interview, Marcellino talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about his new film, “The Identical” and how its message challenges individuals to pursue God’s call on their lives.

“The Identical” is the story of twin brothers raised in different families struggling to find their purpose and destiny. Spanning five decades from the 1930′s through the 1970′s, this film is about the restoration and the reconciliation of a family broken apart by culture, creed and tradition.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 76 - Joseph Simpkins

Joseph Simpkins is the Founder and President of Living Water Films, a production company with the vision to produce “edgy” films that provide spiritual nourishment and healing for the nations as well as high quality films that reach beyond the walls of the church. A professionally trained actor from San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, Joseph studied with former Broadway director and actor from the famous Actors Studio, Bill Silverman. He has also worked in the special mechanical effects area on such TV shows as “Dawson’s Creek”, “Nash Bridges” and “The X-Files”. With a career spanning 20 years in the entertainment industry, Joseph is beyond passionate in his calling to illustrate stories through the performing arts, including his films, “Fatal Flaw”, “The Choice” and “Adrenaline” which is due for release in 2014.

In this interview, Simpkins talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about how his love for racing has played a part in bringing a message of hope through film.

“Adrenaline” is the story of a street racer who gets into an accident and becomes partially paraplegic. While in the hospital, he’s given a new hope his life is not over and that it has a purpose.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Weekend Report: 'Man of Steel' Soars, Scores New June Record

Man of Steel was one of the most-anticipated movie events of the year, and from a box office perspective it did not disappoint.

Through Sunday, Man of Steel earned a fantastic $128.6 million—$116.6 million during the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period, and another $12 million from Thursday night group sales. That's the second-best opening of 2013 so far behind Iron Man 3, and it's a new record for highest opening ever in June ahead of Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million). The official three-day figure of $116.6 million ranks second all-time among non-sequels behind The Hunger Games.

Man of Steel also performed well compared to 2006's Superman Returns. That movie opened on a Wednesday and earned $84.6 million through its first five days. Adjusting for ticket price inflation, that would come out to $102.5 million, or noticeably lower than Man of Steel's $128.6 million haul so far.

In need of a major franchise to fill the void left by Harry Potter and The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. put their all in to making sure Man of Steel was a hit. As far as franchise reboots go, they started in a good place: while Superman is immensely popular, audiences have largely forgotten about Superman Returns, and therefore Man of Steel never faced the same kind of skepticism that surrounded The Amazing Spider-Man last year.

From there, the movie itself wound up being extremely marketable, and the Warner Bros. team pushed on all the right buttons over the past few months. Producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder both have an established track record with comic book material, and their association was a major part of the advertising. It was also made clear that this was an origin story—no prior knowledge needed—that had high stakes and a strong focus on character. Finally, the strong visuals and hints of large-scale action sealed the deal. With all of these qualities clearly on display in the previews, Man of Steel was able to transcend standard superhero movies and become a major movie-going event.

Man of Steel
's audience was heavy on men (56 percent), and age information was not provided. 3D accounted for 41 percent of sales, which made this another unimpressive weekend for the format. Meanwhile, IMAX accounted for 12 percent—most of that is included in the 3D figure, though there were some IMAX 2D showings as well.

While critics weren't thrilled with Man of Steel—it's currently rotten on Rotten Tomatoes—audience for the most part seemed to dig it. With an "A-" CinemaScore suggesting solid word-of-mouth, Man of Steel should hang on well over the next few weeks. At this point, a final total north of $300 million is likely, while $350 million could also be doable.

In a distant second place, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's apocalypse comedy This is the End earned $33 million through its first five days ($20.7 million for the three-day weekend). That figure is noticeably lower than Pineapple Express ($41.3 million), and also off from Tropic Thunder ($36.8 million). Still, it's a good start for a modestly-budgeted movie in which the "stars play themselves" set-up could theoretically have been a turnoff for casual moviegoers.

The audience was 60 percent male and 48 percent under the age of 25, and they gave the movie a decent "B+" CinemaScore. Anecdotally, at least, it seems like This is the End is getting very good word-of-mouth, and it should provide good counterprogramming over the next few weeks. Ultimately, $100 million is in reach, though it will likely wind up a bit below that.

Now You See Me
had the best hold in the Top 12, and managed to actually stay in the Top 3 this weekend: the magician thriller dipped 42 percent to $11 million for a new total of $80.7 million. It's now likely that the movie will close over $100 million, which is a great result for what's arguably the surprise hit of the Summer so far.

In fourth place, Fast & Furious 6 fell 51 percent to $9.6 million. It's already the highest-grossing entry in the Fast franchise with $219.7 million, and should wind up close to $240 million by the end of its run.

After starting strong in first place last weekend, The Purge plummeted 76 percent to $8.3 million this weekend. That's a very steep drop, even by horror movie standards—it ranks 25th all-time, and is almost identical to the second weekend declines of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D and The Devil Inside. Through 10 days The Purge has earned just under $52 million.

The Internship
fared a bit better than The Purge, but also had it pretty rough: the Google comedy dropped 59 percent to $7.1 million, which is a horrific dip for a comedy. That poor hold is due in part to lukewarm word-of-mouth, but also due to very unfortunately scheduling—going against box office behemoth Man of Steel and R-rated comedy This is the End probably wasn't the best decision.

After three weeks in limited release, Before Midnight expanded nationwide to 897 theaters and earned $1.38 million. With $3.05 million total so far, it's still very possible that Before Midnight tops its predecessors ($5.5 million and $5.8 million), though it won't be by much.

Around-the-World Roundup

Aside from its great domestic debut, Man of Steel also cruised to new heights overseas this weekend. The movie opened to $71.6 million in 24 markets, only three of which are considered major. The movie earned a strong $17.1 million in the U.K., which is just a little bit less than Iron Man 3's debut there. It also took in $9.8 million in Mexico—slightly under Dark Knight Rises—and $8.8 million in South Korea.

It performed even better in some smaller markets. In the Phillippines, for example, it had the third-highest opening ever at $5.6 million, and it had Warner Bros. top debut ever in Malyasia ($3.05 million) and the United Arab Emirates ($2 million).

Man of Steel
expands in to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and China next weekend—if it does similarly strong business in those markets, an overseas gross north of $500 million is likely.

In its second weekend, After Earth fell 47 percent to $24 million. To date, the Will Smith/Jaden Smith sci-fi adventure has earned $91.1 million, which is unimpressive considering it's out in nearly all foreign markets already. It expands in to Japan next weekend, and will likely reach China as well at some point.

Fast & Furious 6
added $20 million for a new total of $417.3 million, which is a franchise record ahead of Fast Five's $416 million. It's also now set a Universal Pictures record in Latin America with $94 million. Fast 6 still has Japan and China on the way in July, and should ultimately wind up with more than $500 million overseas.

The Hangover Part III
and Star Trek Into Darkness both passed $200 million overseas this weekend. Hangover hit that mark thanks to holdovers, while Trek got there on decent debuts in France ($3.5 million), Brazil ($3.1 million) and Italy ($1.5 million).

Already a hit at the domestic box office, Now You See Me started to show serious strength overseas this weekend as well. The movie earned $15.6 million, most of which came from a great $10.2 million debut in Russia. So far it's grossed $27.7 million, and it still has debuts in the U.K., Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and France to look forward

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel Official Trailer

Forecast: 'Man of Steel' Sets Sights on June Record

Friday AM Update: Before regular Friday shows even begin, Man of Steel has already taken in an estimated $21 million. It earned $12 million from Thursday night's Wal-Mart screening program, and an additional $9 million from general midnight shows. While the Wal-Mart shows throw off the calculation a bit, this is without-a-doubt a very strong start for a non-sequel, and it's very likely that the movie winds up with at least $100 million through Sunday.
Note: Because the Wal-Mart shows occured exclusively on Thursday, Box Office Mojo will be recording those grosses on that day.

Forecast: With an incredibly strong brand and an aggressive, bold marketing effort, Man of Steel is set to fly high this weekend—so high, in fact, that it's almost guaranteed to set a new opening weekend record for the month of June.

The Superman reboot, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan, opens in 4,207 locations, which is the second-widest release ever for a non-sequel. It will easily take first place this weekend ahead of apocalypse comedy This is the End, which is also poised for a good start after opening to $7.8 million on Wednesday.

Superman's last big-screen outing was 2006's Superman Returns, which scored a five-day opening of $84.6 million on its way to just over $200 million total. While that's a solid number, it was viewed at the time as a bit underwhelming given Superman's status as one of the most-popular comic book characters ever. The Bryan Singer-directed flick was also met with a tepid audience response, which has since been attributed in part to its strict adherence to the world created by Richard Donner's 1978 Superman movie. As a result, Warner Bros. avoided making a sequel, and instead focused their comic book efforts on other characters in the DC Comics Universe.

Seven years later, Warner Bros. is starting from scratch with Man of Steel. To do so, they turned to Christopher Nolan, who was responsible for WB's hugely-successful Dark Knight trilogy. After Nolan hashed the story out with screenwriter David S. Goyer, 300/Watchmen director Zack Snyder was brought on board to execute the vision. While Snyder is maligned in some circles, his visual skills are widely respected, and the combination of Nolan and Snyder's name give Man of Steel major comic book credentials.

Man of Steel
's marketing started slow—the first teaser barely featured Superman—but Warner Bros. really turned in their A-game over the past few months. While advertisements do promise the kind of massive action that Superman fans are anticipating, the primary emphasis is on the origin story and the movie's rich, lofty themes. It also smartly hints at Superman actor Henry Cavill's good looks and his flirtation with Amy Adams' Lois Lane, which should make the movie more accessible to women. By focusing on story and character—all set to Hans Zimmer's already iconic score—Man of Steel is well-positioned to expand its audience beyond comic book aficionados.

While early word was that the movie was an unqualified success, reviews haven't been nearly as kind: as of late Thursday afternoon, the movie was on the border between fresh and rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. For a movie of this scale, though, mixed reviews aren't typically an issue on opening weekend, and that should be the case for Man of Steel as well.

Adjusted for ticket price inflation, Superman Returns's five-day opening would come in at around $102 million. While that was very highly anticipated at the time, it's safe to say that Man of Steel is generating at least a bit more buzz. It's also important to note that the marketplace has made room for Man of Steel—no title in the past two weekends has opened higher than $34.3 million, and none of the holdovers will gross more than $15 million this weekend.

The current record-holder for a June opening weekend belongs to 2010's Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million), though Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had a higher three-day start ($127.8 million). While both of those movies had the sequel advantage, Man of Steel also has an established brand, and has at least as much excitement surrounding it. Therefore, an opening in that range seems like a lock right now.

Man of Steel
also opens in 24 international markets this weekend, including the U.K., South Korea and Mexico. Superman Returns made a modest $191 million overseas, which is a figure that Man of Steel should at least double thanks to the expanded intnernational marketplace and the addition of 3D. In fact, it could make much more—on Wednesday, it set an opening day record in the Phillippines with $1.66 million, which suggests that foreign demand is probably higher than originally anticipated.

While it's going to make a lot less than Man of Steel, apocalypse comedy This is the End also appears poised for a solid start this weekend. For comedies to break-out, they need to have a strong premise and deliver laughs, and the directorial debut of Superbad writing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg seems to be in good shape in both areas. The movie definitely has the premise part locked down: it finds Rogen and a handful of his acting buddies, playing themselves, trapped in James Franco's house during the apocalypse. The jokes in the previews aren't as inspiring, though strong reviews and social network buzz both seem to reassure audiences that the movie is, in fact, quite funny.

The movie essentially functions as a sequel to Pineapple Express—Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride all have significant roles—but a better comparison may be 2008's Tropic Thunder. That movie was also a violent, profane R-rated comedy that lampooned Hollywood actors (though Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. weren't playing themselves). It also opened on a Wednesday, and had collected $36.8 million by Sunday. Following its $7.8 million Wednesday debut—a bit higher than Tropic Thunder—Sony is currently expecting This is the End to earn in the low-to-mid-$30 millions by Sunday.

After grossing $1.5 million through its third weekend in limited release, Before Midnight expands nationwide in to nearly 900 theaters this weekend. It's getting some of the best reviews of the year, and should ultimately wind up out-grossing predecessors Before Sunrise ($5.5 million) and Before Sunset ($5.8 million).

Finally, upstart distributor A24 releases Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring in five locations this weekend. Unfortunately, reviews are mixed (62 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and it would be surprising if it got to the same level as A24's other girls-gone-wild movie Spring Breakers ($14.1 million).

Forecast (June 14-16)

1. Man of Steel - $139 million
2. This is the End - $25.2 million ($37.7 million five-day)
3. The Purge - $11.1 million (-68%)
4. Now You See Me - $10.6 million (-44%)
5. Fast & Furious 6 - $9.7 million (-51%)
6. The Internship - $9.4 million (-46%)
Bar for Success
Superman Returns's five-day debut adjusts to $102 million; if Man of Steel hits that in three days, it's off to a very good start. Meanwhile, if This is the End exceeds $30 million through five days, it's also in solid shape.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stephen King's 'Under the Dome' on CBS could create new TV model

CBS' highly anticipated thriller, "Under the Dome," could help create a new business model for TV shows -- and encourage broadcasters to gamble on risky big-event summer programming.

The 13-episode series, which debuts June 24 on CBS, is based on a bestselling Stephen King novel by the same name and produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and CBS Studios.

"Under the Dome" takes place in a small American town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a gigantic transparent dome. Trapped inside the bubble, residents must grapple with post-apocalyptic conditions.
PHOTOS: Billion-dollar movie club

Broadcast networks long ago abandoned ambitious original scripted shows to launch in the summer. Instead, they have held back their promising projects for the fall to kick off the traditional TV season when more viewers are plopped on their couches.

However, by stocking summer schedules with cheaper reality shows and reruns of scripted shows, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have witnessed an exodus of viewers, ceding fertile ground to cable channels AMC, FX, Showtime and others. Cable networks took advantage of the broadcast networks' summer doldrums and captured viewers with their own groundbreaking and award-winning programs.

That's why CBS wanted to take a big swing.

"We were looking for the ability to put on more original programming because things were getting a little quiet during the summer, and we had to look for new models to do that," CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told Wall Street analysts last month.

To pay off on its gamble, the nation's No. 1 network decided early on that it needed to tap two increasingly important revenue sources -- Internet streaming services and international syndication sales -- to finance "Under the Dome" and make it profitable from the start.

The program, which was shot in North Carolina, cost about $3 million to $3.4 million an episode to produce, on the high side for a new network drama. Advertising rates for summer shows were not high enough to support such an elaborate project.

Read more at,0,5527066.story

Friday, June 7, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 75 – Chip Rosetti

Writer, director and producer, Chip Rossetti, is the founder of Christian Theatrical Releasing (CTR), an organization with the mission to get Christian, faith-based and family films shown in movie theaters around the U.S. as 90% of Christian films go straight to DVD or digital distribution. Chip started making documentaries in 2000 and in 2011, he made his first feature film, “Fathers” which was released in 2012 by Bridgestone Multimedia Group. His upcoming films, “The Accidental Missionary”, is set for release by Echo Light Studios in the spring of 2013 and “The Things We Leave Behind” will be released by Bridgestone Multimedia Group in the summer of 2013.

In this interview, Rossetti talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about his new role in getting Christian and faith-based films in theaters throughout the U.S.

“The Accidental Missionary” is the story of a successful Hollywood actor on his way for a luxurious vacation but ends up in a location on the other end of the earth and out of his comfort zone. He ends up learning that sometimes, there are no accidents.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 74 – Inspiration Pop 2929 red carpet premiere

The red carpet premiere of the new family film, “Inspiration Pop 2929” was held recently at the Trinity Music City in Hendersonville, Tennessee and Christian Movie Connect was there! With a tremendous turnout for the premiere, anxious attendees lined up in advance in order to get a good seat to see the movie.

CMC’s own Cheryl Ariaz Wicker was the official red carpet interviewer, capturing interviews with Grammy Award-winning artists Jason Crabb and Larry Gatlin and country music legend Barbara Mandresll with sisters Louise Mandrell and Irlene Mandrell who were in attendance in support of Barbara’s daughter-in-law, award-winning Christian singer-songwriter, Christy Sutherland.

“Inspiration Pop 2929” is family film with a musical heart set in a fictional Southern town that follows a diverse cast of characters as they struggle to overcome hardship and in doing so find fulfillment in unexpected ways

Christian Movie Connect Episode 73 – Gary Zelasko

Gary Zelasko is the Director of Marketing for Harvest Ministries, one of the largest and most influential outreach ministries in the U.S. With nearly 30 years of media experience, Gary has served in a variety of capacities including CEO of Luminescence Catalog, a skin care catalog company that he built to become a multimillion dollar entity. He has also held numerous executive positions with major networks and media organizations such as CBS, Cox and Hearst Broadcasting. In 2010, Gary managed the distribution of the Greg Laurie documentary, “Lost Boy: The Next Chapter”. His latest project with Harvest Ministries and Lifeway Films, “Hope for Hurting Hearts”, is due for national release through church organizations in the summer of 2013.

In this interview, Zelasko talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about how documentary film is used to bring hope and faith in Christ.

“Hope for Hurting Hearts” tells the stories of how Greg Laurie, Jeremy Camp, Nick Vujicic and their families dealt with times of extreme suffering. Through this life-changing documentary, these stories are shared to draw others to the truth of comfort, hope and trust in Christ.

Weekend Report: 'Fast' Falls, Magicians Make Will Smith Disappear

After flying high over Memorial Day, the box office came crashing down this weekend. All of the major holdovers fell over 50 percent, while After Earth opened on track with recent sci-fi bombs like John Carter and Battleship. The only bright spot was Now You See Me, which opened way above expectations.

Similar to the other recent movies in its franchise, Fast & Furious 6 took its foot off the gas pedal in its second weekend. The movie plummeted 65 percent to an estimated $34.5 million; while that was enough for first place, it still indicates that the movie won't be able to take the franchise to the next level box office-wise. To date, Fast 6 has earned a very $170.4 million.

In second place, magician caper Now You See Me opened to a very good $28.05 million. That's the biggest non-Twilight debut ever for Summit Entertainment, which was acquired by Lionsgate in early 2012. The opening is particularly impressive given the overwhelming competition from holdovers and the tendency of magician movies to underperform (The Prestige and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone as examples).

Lionsgate/Summit made a risky move by scheduling Now You See Me on the weekend after what was always expected to be a massive Memorial Day. How could a comparatively-modest magician flick get any traction against some of the biggest movies of the year? As it turns out, this was a classic counterprogramming play: following a barrage of franchise fare, the movie's fun, original premise felt like a breath of fresh air. It doesn't hurt that Now You See Me had a broadly-appealing cast that included Morgan Freeman, whose box office credentials have been reinforced this year thanks to the performance of Olympus Has Fallen and Oblivion (a fact that Lionsgate surely was aware of when they made the move to center TV ads around Freeman).

The audience for Now You See Me was split about even by gender (51 percent female) and skewed a bit younger (52 percent under 30 years of age). With good word-of-mouth ("A-" CinemaScore), the movie should play well in the coming weeks, though it probably won't come close to reaching $100 million.

Will and Jaden Smith's sci-fi adventure After Earth wound up in third place this weekend with a very disappointing $27 million. That's in between last year's notorious sci-fi bombs John Carter ($30.2 million) and Battleship ($25.5 million). It's also half of MIB 3 ($54.6 million) and The Karate Kid ($55.7 million), which were the last two movies from Will and Jaden, respectively.

As is the case with many bombs, the explanation for After Earth's poor start is quite simple: the movie just didn't look all that appealing. While director M. Night Shyamalan's name was hidden in the marketing, he does have to take some of the blame for the movie's bland, paint-by-numbers appearance. Also, while Will Smith is clearly a major star, his presence didn't help much because his role here as a stoic, incapacitated soldier was devoid of the charisma and energy that audiences expect from him.

The audience was 51 percent male and 60 percent were 25 years of age or older. They gave the movie a "B" CinemaScore, which suggests middling word-of-mouth that should keep the movie from holding on well. Add in the fact that Man of Steel is on the immediate horizon, and it's unlikely that After Earth winds up with more than $70 million or so.

After Earth
debuts in most overseas next weekend, and Sony is hoping that Will Smith's international drawing power will help make up for the limp domestic debut. Over $200 million should be doable, though that still puts After Earth firmly in the John Carter/Battleship realm.

Star Trek Into Darkness
and Epic tied for fourth place this weekend with $16.4 million. Through 18 days, Into Darkness has earned $181.2 million, which trails the 2009 movie by around $10 million. Meanwhile, Epic has earned $65.2 million to date; it has two more weekends before Monsters University opens, which might not be enough time to keep it from becoming Blue Sky Animation's lowest-grossing movie ever behind Robots ($128.2 million).

In sixth place, The Hangover Part III plummeted 62 percent to $15.9 million. Its $88.1 million 11-day total is less than half of Part II's total through the same point, and is also lower than the first Hangover ($110.3 million). It now looks like Part III is poised to close around $120 million, which is an awful drop from the franchise's previous $250 million benchmark.
Bollywood movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani opened in ninth place with an impressive $1.65 million at 161 theaters.

Frances Ha
crept in to the Top 12 this weekend with an estimated $552,000 from 133 locations, while Before Midnight expanded to 31 theaters and grossed $431,000. The East and The Kings of Summer both opened to modest results at four locations each: The East grossed $75,600, while Kings earned $58,000.

Around-the-World Roundup

While domestic audiences have rejected the third Hangover movie, international audiences are embracing it: the movie grossed $82.3 million from 54 markets this weekend for an early total of $110.7 million. Its highest-grossing new market was Germany with $15 million (a new record for U.S. comedies) followed by Russia ($9.3 million), Italy ($7.6 million), France ($5.4 million), Austria ($3.1 million), Spain ($2.8 million) and the Netherlands ($2.1 million). Across all of these territories, Part III had a higher start than Part II—that movie ultimately earned over $332 million overseas, which now appears to be a possibility for Part III as well.

Fast & Furious 6
dipped 49 percent to $75 million for an excellent $310.2 million overseas total. It's already out-grossed the first four Fast movies, and will pass Fast Five ($416 million) in the next few weeks. Fast 6 still has openings in Australia (June 6), Japan (July 6) and China (July) on the horizon, and a final total around $500 million appears within reach.

Star Trek Into Darkness
added $37.6 million this weekend; most of that came from China, where the movie opened to an incredible $25 million (nearly triple the lifetime gross of the 2009 movie there). It also had a strong $5 million debut in South Korea. It's already topped its predecessor with $147.4 million total so far, and it still has Japan, Brazil, France, Italy and Spain on the way.

grossed $28.3 million this weekend, which includes a very good $7.9 million start in Russia. To date, it's earned $84.8 million, and continues to look like it's going to be one of the lower-grossing animated movies in recent memory.

The Great Gatsby
continued its solid foreign run by adding $22.6 million this weekend. In director Baz Luhrman's home country Australia, the movie opened to $6.7 million, and it also debuted to $1.9 million in Mexico. It's now earned $120 million, and Warner Bros. reports that it's tracking on par with Sex and the City 2 ($195 million total).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How to Get Happy

By Chelsea Batten at Converge

Writer-director Brad Wise talks about what's important, and what's not, for a Christian  who makes movies.

"It's not like I was a kid dreaming of making movies one day. I never really set out to do any of this stuff. It just kind of happened"

Brad Wise has the shell-shocked look of a guy who just found out his wife is having triplets. His voice is quiet, maybe slightly preoccupied. I expected more fist-pumping, more chest-pounding, more promotional rhetoric. For a guy who brought together a pastor, a 1960s TV icon, and the poster girl for pop Christianity to make an indie film that defies the boundaries of most any category you could shoehorn it into, Brad doesn’t come off like the one-man hype machine I expected.

Back in 2008, Brad was working at a Vineyard church in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from where he grew up. He started hanging out with a group within the church who had creative tendencies. The ideas they tossed around snowballed into a few good stories, which became short videos and sketches for use on Sunday mornings. In 2008, they put together their first “big” production–a 20-minute Christmas-themed mashup presentation of live action and film.
Actors and crew on the set of “A Strange Brand of Happy”
Brad says that was the first time they felt like more than just a group of friends messing around with video equipment. All of a sudden, they were a crew, and their project was a production.
It was also the first time, for many of them, that they felt the stirring to life of certain gifts that they’d never put to work. The feeling, Brad says, was addictive.
All that stuff that we never knew what it would be useful for? We got to do something with it, and felt like, “Whoa, we should do this again.”
That same year, Brad and his friend Joe Boyd, a teaching pastor at a church in Las Vegas, began writing a story that drew on their own search for happiness. The script that resulted (after several iterations and thrown-away drafts) is “A Strange Brand of Happy,” which Brad is hesitant to describe as a Christian movie.
It’s kind of a quirky existential comedy with a couple love triangles thrown in to keep it interesting. But that doesn’t fit well on a poster.
I like to pride myself on keeping a conscientiously open mind; that doesn’t stop me from marshaling a host of pre-fab judgments when I read the words “faith-friendly” in the film’s press release. Even as the opening credits roll, I’m listening for the telltale qualities of a CCM artist on the soundtrack, and speculating on how closely the acting will resemble what I’ve seen in school chapel presentations. Above all, I’m wondering if there’s going to be any kissing in this movie, not least because it stars the darling of the True Love Waits movement.
Rebecca St. James, as Joyce
Rebecca St. James, as Joyce

Given Brad’s non-hype approach to our conversation, I feel like I should dial down my aggressive cynicism about the “faith-friendly” genre he’s entering. To my surprise, he shares it–”I’m with you when it comes to being cynical about Christian art.” What he’s seen in that market, he hasn’t found terribly compelling, especially when it comes to film. As an example, he brings up the recent adaptation of “Blue Like Jazz.” But then he lets it fall, without any actual criticism of it–”You could argue whether what they did worked or not.”
The thing is, Brad says, he and his friends weren’t trying to make a Christian movie. They weren’t even really trying to break into the movie business. Their objective, then and now, is almost disingenuously simple.