March 12, 2005
Movies Are Getting Better, but Not TV
you noticed that there are more and more moral movies?
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was not only a powerful movie
of the crucifixion of
Jesus, but it appeared only a year after THE GOSPEL OF JOHN brought to life
Jesus as seen by the Apostle John.
LUTHER was another biographical film that brought a
Christian hero to life. Totally different but with strong moral themes were
the movies, THE POLAR EXPRESS, THE INCREDIBLES, SPIDER-MAN 2, SHREK II,
SHARK TAIL, NATIONAL TREASURE, COLLATERAL, MIRACLE and A CINDERELLA STORY.
In fact, 45 percent of the 250 films released last year
were stories of hope where genuine
heroes struggle with evil but emerge triumphant, where fathers apologize to
their sons for errors, reports Dr. Theodore Baehr, Chairman and Founder of
the Christian Film & Television
Nearly half of all movies have a positive message? It was not always so. When the
Commission began watching Hollywood's productions in 1985 to advise parents
what to see or
avoid, only 5 films had positive Christian content - a mere 2 percent.
I give Ted Baehr much of the credit for this remarkable
change in Hollywood. He has used four strategies to transform "tinseltown."
First, he reviews every major movie, and gives it a
rating and publishes his findings monthly in MOVIEGUIDE, a Family Guide to
Movies and Entertainment. Second, he provides TV and radio commentaries
which are aired on Christian radio stations.
Third, his Commission has presented awards to the most
moral films one week before the
Academy Awards. This year's John Templeton Foundation's Epiphany Prize of
$50,000 for the
most inspirational movie went to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, won last year by
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.
Baehr says the purpose of the awards is to "create a
deeper spiritual awareness in mankind and increasing man's love and
understanding of God."
Finally, the Commission has kept a sharp eye on the
economic impact of each film. The
Academy Awards may have overlooked Mel Gibson's astonishing story of the
not the public which spent $611 million to see it.
In fact, the movies with very strong moral content
"earned nearly $106.7 million on average, more than SIX TIMES as much money
as movies with very strong immoral, negative or anti-religious content,
which averaged only $16.4 million per movie in 2004," Baehr reports.
Is that due to the phenomenal success of THE PASSION OF
No. Baehr reports the same pattern year after
year. In 2003 films with strong moral content took in an average of
$92.5 million vs. less than $15 million each for negative or
immoral content. In 2002 the positive films earned $71 million on
average vs. less than $13
million for anti-Christian movies.
The LORD OF THE RINGS movies, for example, are big at
the box office because they
provide an uplifting message that people want to see.
"It is a miracle that audiences are choosing good
movies," Dr. Baehr comments.
By contrast, KINSEY, with a very strong politically
correct, humanist worldview and a
very strong homosexual content grossed a meager $9 million or 1.5 million
ticket sales, "a very pathetic amount in a country with 295 million people".
Yet 20th Century Fox, like all other major studios in
Hollywood refused to distribute THE
PASSION OF THE CHRIST while it did distribute KINSEY. Movies with
explicit sex earned
less than $6.3 million on average.
Hollywood is slowly paying attention to Dr. Baehr's
message. It would rather earn
money than not, so it is producing more films like THE PASSION and LADDER
Unfortunately, television has not gotten the message that people want to see
drama, not sleaze and bare breasts. Why not?
Television is produced by direct vote of advertisers,
who are seeking not the largest audience, but the largest number of 18-24
year olds. Thus, "Christy" which was in the top five
shows in ratings gets dropped. And HBO on Friday night is straight
There are occasional superb TV shows, such as "Joan of
Arc" which will be aired March
21 on the Hallmark Channel. It is about the French teenager who almost
defeated the invading
British army with her inspirational leadership of the French army.
I have two suggestions. Subscribe to Movieguide
to know what movies & TV to see or
avoid (805 383-2000).
Write President Bush and suggest that Ted Baehr be
named Chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission which regulates television, to replace the
retiring Michael Powell.
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