'Les Miserables' Succeeds at Movie Box Office by Targeting Christians

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 12:08 PM

By Megan Anderle

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Despite getting less than stellar reviews from film critics and being seen on fewer movie screens than other major pictures, Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" has stayed among the top three at the box office. It has defied the odds due, in part, to a marketing campaign aimed at Christians.

After winning Christmas Day when it opened, "Les Miserables" has pulled in nearly $81 million on 2,814 screens as of Wednesday, according to NBC Universal. After last weekend, "Les Miserables" had settled into a close third behind "The Hobbit" and "Django Unchained," both of which are being seen on considerably more screens across the nation.

The film's considerable amount of common Christian themes such as grace, mercy, and redemption naturally appeal to Christian audiences, according to Jonathan Bock, founder and president of Grace Hill Media which was hired by NBC Universal to create a marketing campaign that targeted Christians.

"If you're a Christian and you're seeing this film, you can't help but see these themes," Bock said in an interview with CNN, pointing out one of the movie's most famous lines, "to love another person is to see the face of God."

"We were targeting specifically people who had a bully pulpit," acknowledged Bock, adding that his goal was to attract Christians to the theater who would "be impacted by it and then tell anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of people what they just saw."

In addition to purchasing ads in traditional and digital media markets that appeal to the faith-based community, Bock also teamed up with Christian organizations and community leaders to hold exclusive screenings of the film.

As part of its marketing campaign, Grace Hill Media teamed up with Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., which used its network throughout the state to reach out to various church leaders, adoption agencies, and child welfare officials to view a special screening of "Les Miserables."

Though Bock refused to say how much his firm was being paid for the domestic marketing campaign, the promoter told CNN it was not uncommon for studios to pay between $30 million to $130 million on a similar global campaign.

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