While admittedly not all in Hollywood would find Kirk Cameron’s faith alluring, the entertainment industry can’t help but take note of the solid box-office numbers the Christian filmmaker consistently achieves.
Best known for his early television role as Mike Seaver on the hit sitcom “Growing Pains” and lead role in the movies based on authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ “Left Behind” scripture-based novels, Cameron is once again snagging some major Hollywood attention.
This time around his documentary “Unstoppable” is his vehicle du jour, the film garnering a $2 million take in one evening with the assistance of an unconventional marketing approach.
The release of the film was implemented in the form of a one-night live event, which just last week lit up 700 screens across the country. Ticket sales hit the unprecedented 150,000 mark for the independently financed “Unstoppable” event.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that the dramatic feature film “Prisoners,” which stars big-name leads Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, took in $2.2 million at the box office during the same time frame, but on a much wider release of 3,260 screens.
The unique approach to the independent release included a live broadcast via satellite from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where Cameron acted as the master of ceremonies, moderated a question-and-answer session, and introduced an array of musical artists to an enthusiastic audience numbering in the thousands.
This isn’t the first time that Cameron has used the innovative distribution method to market a film. Back in 2012, he employed the same strategy in conjunction with another documentary, “Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure,” which also ratcheted up big numbers thanks to the sale of 100,000 tickets and $1.23 million in revenue.
Many studio executives have stored in their memory banks Cameron’s 2008 big-screen drama “Fireproof,” which had a production budget of $500,000 and grossed more than $33 million, a profit margin that any entertainment company would covet. That same year the Christian-themed movie took the highest earning independent film spot. Reportedly, Cameron donated his name and talent to the project and refrained from taking compensation for his performance.
Cameron characterizes “Unstoppable” as his “most personal” project to date, one in which he has penned the movie script and seeks to answer the following question: “Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?”
In a recent interview with the Movie Mom blog on the Belief Net website, he explained, “I did not call Deepak Chopra, Rick Warren, Oprah Winfrey, or any of the go-to guys for a lot of folks. I didn’t just want an academic answer to the problem.”
Cameron described his desire to “take a journey into the heart and character of God,” saying, “the only way I know to do that is by reading the book that He wrote
where He tells us the hows and the whys, going back to the Garden of Eden and the very first tragedy.”
As a side note, something that may have contributed to the film’s pre-release buzz was the fact that links to the “Unstoppable” official website were actually blocked from Facebook, and the movie’s trailer was removed from YouTube. In July 2013, Cameron asked his fans to petition Facebook to stop censoring links to the movie's website.
Consequently, the story went viral on the Internet, which prompted news media outlets to cover it. The Facebook block was eventually lifted, following further expressions of outrage on the part of the public.
Spokespersons for Facebook provided the explanation that the URL that had been purchased for the movie had been previously used for spam, and additionally noted that the link was reinstated after a short period of time. Also, following the lifting of the ban on the Facebook link, the teaser trailer for “Unstoppable” was blocked on YouTube. The video site later dropped the ban, apparently due to the negative feedback it had received from the public.
Interestingly, Cameron did not have the same gift of faith he now enjoys when he was in his early teens. However, at the age of 17, amid the height of his career on “Growing Pains,” he became a believer.
Many would consider this to be a miraculous occurrence in as much as the entertainment industry mindset and demands placed upon an individual with Hollywood aspirations so often run counter to a Christian walk.
For those who missed the first “Unstoppable” event, another single evening screening will take place in theaters nationwide on October 3, 2013.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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