By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (ANS) – American church groups are seeking to “take over” entire theaters for screenings of “Son of God,” the upcoming movie from 20th Century Fox, about the life of Jesus Christ, and based on the hit “Bible” miniseries.
According to Hilary Lewis, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, “Various religious organizations throughout the country have been buying out screens and distributing tickets to groups of thousands of people for ‘Theater Take-Overs’ on Thursday, Feb. 27, the night before the film’s officially released, according to production company Lightworkers Media.”
The story went on to say that Crossroads Church in Cincinnati is bringing thousands of people to a Cinemark theater, where “Son of God” will be showing on 13 screens at the same time.
“Our church bought out every screen in the theater,” Crossroads’ Brian Wells said in a statement. “If anyone comes to the theater to see another movie that night, they’ll be out of luck, unless we have a few extra tickets to give them!”
There are a few other theater buyouts for “Son of God” scheduled at Cinemark locations throughout the country, according to the theater chain’s marketing and communications head James Meredith.
“It’s very interesting to see this level of excitement around the movie,” Meredith said. “The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tent pole or franchise movies.”
Mega-church pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is buying out screens in eight different theaters throughout Orange County.
“I’ve seen most of the films about Jesus produced in the past 50 years, and ‘Son of God’ is the best,” Warren said. “We’re excited Jesus is back on the big screen, and we’re going to fill the theaters. I want every other faith leader in America to do the same. Whether you can buy out a whole theater, or just one screen, now is the time to show up. This is a rare opportunity to bring the story of Christ into our mainstream culture.
“We want to see Jesus in movie theaters where sight and sound can open up our senses and let grace come in. The message of the Gospel deserves to be on the big screen – and this is our chance to see it there.”
Besides supporting the film, Warren is also partnering with LifeWay Christians Resources to release a Bible study for movie.
The small group curriculum resource by Warren is said to be the “perfect companion” to “Son of God,” produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. The study became available Feb. 15, two weeks before the movie hits theaters Feb. 28.
“Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You” is a DVD small group Bible study, which features Warren explaining how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus, and is available at LifeWay Stores and www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Son-of-God.
“There’s nothing more important you can do with your life than spending time getting to know Jesus,” said Warren. “Through the Son of God study, people will receive practical teaching on the life of Jesus and its impact on individual lives and life purpose. Jesus’ teaching trans forms from the inside out.”
The six-session study features video clips from the theatrical movie and custom videos from Pastor Warren explaining Jesus’ teachings and their impact on people’s lives. Topics include baptism, temptation, suffering, death, resurrection and ministry. Scenes from the movie such as Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist will help illustrate each topic.
Other churches and organizations, ranging in size from 10,000 to 4 million, are distributing tickets for a “Theater Take-Over.” Some pastors will also buy out screens showing the film in Spanish and Korean. There’s even a Catholic “Theater Take-Over” planned for Miami.
The Hollywood Reporter story also stated that various business leaders throughout the country are also donating tickets to churches and non-profits.
“Son of God” is a version of the hit “The Bible” miniseries, featuring new and used footage, focused just on the story of Jesus Christ. The Bible averaged 11.4 million viewers during its five-week run on the History Channel and became the top-selling miniseries on DVD of all time.
Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, said in a statement, “We’re very excited that the community is mobilizing to support ‘Son of God.’ The grass roots support is so important and the faith community is amazing when it mobilizes. Our hope is that the story and message of Jesus Christ will reach tens of millions of people nationwide.”
Burnett and Downey promoted the film at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., where President Obama spoke to an audience of religious and secular leaders from around the world.
“We are going to spend around $10 million on commercials, and that is nothing. You may not even see a commercial for this. … The only chance we’ve got is the church community spreading the word,” Burnett said at the prayer breakfast, where 30 minutes of the film was shown to the audience. “We carried the backpack so far. We made it; we unbelievably got it in theaters everywhere. It’s now a great time for people to bring groups and bring people with them who need this message, who need to know who Jesus is.”
To find out more about the film, and see the trailer, go to www.sonofgodmovie.com.