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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Murdoch's dozen: Fox goes "Christian"

While searching for the lyrics to the anthem, “Throw the Jew down the well,” to NewsCorpFox’s Borat in anticipation of tomorrow night’s 25-city, worldwide sneak via MySpace, word came through of another side to the Rupert Murdoch-controlled conglom. It’s called “FoxFaith,” reports LA Times’ Lorenza Muñoz, and will release up to twelve pics a year marketed toward religious audiences. foxfaith.jpg “In the biggest commitment of its sort by a Hollywood studio, News Corp.’s Fox Filmed Entertainment is expected to unveil plans [for the] home entertainment division of Rupert Murdoch’s movie studio plans to produce as many as a dozen films a year under a banner called FoxFaith. At least six of those films will be released in theaters under an agreement with two of the nation’s largest chains, AMC Theatres and Carmike Cinemas. The first theatrical release, called Love’s Abiding Joy, is scheduled to [open] Oct. 6. The movie, which cost about $2 million to make, is based on the fourth installment” of a Christian novel series called “Love Comes Softly.” “A segment of the market is starving for this type of content,” said Simon Swart, general manager of Fox’s U.S. home entertainment unit,” using the word “content” rather than “message” or “artistic endeavor.” “We want to push the production value, not videotape sermons or proselytize.” … “Over the last four years, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has quietly built a network to mobilize evangelical Christian moviegoers… The network includes 90,000 congregations and a database of more than 14 million mainly evangelical households. FoxFaith films, to be based on Christian bestsellers, will have small budgets of less than $5 million each, compared with the $60-million average. The movies each will be backed by $5-million marketing campaigns.” Although relatively small, “the budget is significant for targeting a niche audience, especially one as fervent as many evangelical Christians… “It is extremely satisfying to be taken seriously,” said Nancy Neutzling, vice president of marketing for Word Distribution, FoxFaith’s distributor to Christian retailers. “It’s like we have arrived.” … FoxFaith’s biggest splash came in July at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver… Inside a massive white tent… a studio-sponsored event had all the earmarks of a Hollywood fete: a lavish buffet, an exclusive movie preview of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming family-friendly horse drama Flicka and acrobats from Cirque du Soleil. Because it was a Christian convention, no alcohol was served and the performers’ costumes were inspected to ensure demure necklines.” [More testimony at the link.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch