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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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