For many years, Movieguide® has been telling Hollywood there's a huge audience they're neglecting.
John Katz of The New York Times recently wrote an amazing article with details about the viewing habits of rural and urban Americans. The Times looked at Facebook "likes" for different television programs by zip code. The result was a huge geographical contrast between those who liked Duck Dynasty and those who liked Modern Family as well as many other programs.
Quoting Katz, "If you had to guess how strongly a place supported Donald J. Trump in the election, would you rather know how popular Duck Dynasty is there, or how George W. Bush did there in 2000? It turns out the relationship with the TV show is stronger."
What the Times reveals applies to movies as well.
When Hollywood makes movies that appeal to the fans of Modern Family, they don't play as well in suburban and rural multiplexes. Often, they don't play there at all. They only show up in inner city "art" theaters. If you were to look at where War Room or The Blind Spot played well, it would be where Duck Dynasty does well.
What Hollywood understands, but keeps quiet, is that you can serve both audiences if you respect both audiences. Both audiences like a great story, well- told, with uplifting values. You reduce the support of the Duck Dynasty audience with vulgarity, sexual immorality and anything attacking their basic Christian, biblical values.
Some urbanites are frustrated that the major studios don't make more movies promoting perversion. They want movies to get Americans to support their values. The problem for them is that with movies, you have to get people to purchase tickets. If word gets out that a movie opposes Christian values, it will most likely bomb with Christian moviegoers.
In the reverse, Christian audiences would love to see major studios make more movies with strong Christian messages. They're reluctant to do this because they want to reach urban audiences as well.
What does work for both groups is basic biblical morality. Messages about kindness, forgiveness, integrity, courage and justice resonate with both groups. Movieguide® regularly gives out Crystal Teddy Bear Awards to movies that appeal to both urban and rural audiences. Year after year, Movieguide® Award winners make far more than Academy Award winners because the voting members of the Academy prefer Modern Family much more than Duck Dynasty.
There is a market for strong Christian movies, and they do very well at the Movieguide® Awards, but not all do well at the box office. Very well-intentioned Christians feel called to enter the filmmaking business without fully understanding that business. The major studios may not be making The Sound of Music anymore, but they do understand what it takes to get millions of ticket buyers out on opening weekend. They don't always succeed, but there's much to learn from them, including the growing importance of appealing to international audiences.
At Movieguide®, we'd love to see both the major studios and smaller Christian filmmakers do fabulously well on wholesome, uplifting movies. The potential is astounding.
On Feb. 10, Movieguide® will present its awards for 2016 movies. It thrills us that all five of the top five movies at the international box office are among the winners we'll be awarding. The values and content we love are loved worldwide.
We congratulate John Katz and The New York Times for their work showing there's a sizable audience with values outside the major cities who appreciates Duck Dynasty more than Modern Family.
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