Americans Can’t Distingiush Fictional Characters

I saw an interesting advert on television the other evening that had to do with a DVD/Blu-Ray release of a movie. I was surprised to see this movie on disc so early.

In fact, although I’d heard late last year, very early this year that the movie was going to be released in 2014, I was not even aware it had been in the theaters. I’ve heard no one speak of it, and although I occasionally peruse my local theaters online to see what’s showing, I’m fairly certain I never saw this movie at any of our theaters here.

The movie is Son of God. It seemed before release to get some decent trailer time on television. What really surprised me is that this movie was released at the end of February and is now, just 3 months later, already coming out on DVD.

So, I went to do a little research to see how well the movie did in initial release. I actually thought the movie probably bombed to be out in stores this soon – but no. Domestically (U.S.) this movie grossed almost $60 million. The production cost? $37 million. So the movie actually did pretty well in initial release, although it’s worldwide gross was only $69.5 million. That says something, doesn’t it?

Other Christian themed movies have done well also. Remember Noah? Well, in the U.S. the film really didn’t perform that well. Recall though there were several religious organizations that came out against it because it wasn’t “true” to the biblical story(myth). In the U.S. it barely broke over $100 million even though the production costs were estimated at $175 million. Sad huh? Now let’s check worldwide: $344 million. Seems that Noah as an action movie scored a lot better with the overseas market than it did domestically.

How about Heaven Is For Real? You remember the story of a 4 year old that has emergency surgery to save his life and awakens to tell a fantastic story. On a budget of $35 million, it grossed $88 million in the U.S. Worldwide just $91 million. Interesting.

It seems to be there’s at least a bit of a trend in these numbers. Okay, not a trend but these box office numbers do say a couple of things to me.
First, religiously themed movies, by themselves, do not seem to do that well outside of the U.S. Add up the numbers for both Son of God and Heaven Is For Real. Worldwide, to date, both of these films together have only grossed $12.5 million. The opposite happened with Noah. Noah as superhero, scored big worldwide compared to the domestic gross.

It’s a little humorous to me: Americans will pay big bucks to see movies like X-Men, Spiderman, and the latest hit, Maleficent (one week total of $69.4 million) as well as others like Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings movies – all of which are fiction – but become upset when a screenwriter and director take some latitude with a fictional character out of a “sacred” book. Really. Would anyone have gone to see Noah if it followed the story in the bible?

I don’t know how many of you remember The Last Temptation of Christ. It was released in 1988 to scathing attacks by, who else?, the Christian Right (most of whom had never viewed the film). I actually saw that movie and, even though a little strange, thought the movie was great because it portrayed Jesus as a man. If you can buy or stream it, I highly recommend it. It was a small movie, only $7 million for production. It grossed only $8.3 million. That’s it. I don’t think, with the backlash from “religious leaders” that it was even distributed outside the U.S.

Lastly, it does appear to me that many Americans are still caught up with biblical stories, as long as those movies follow the mythology they’ve been indoctrinated into since childhood. Go against that, just a little, and producers can forget about making any money.

In America, it doesn’t appear we are yet mature enough to distinguish one fictional character from another.

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