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Religious Faith–and Positive Black Images–Win at the Box Office

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The startling success of the new movie WAR ROOM should send a powerful message to the entertainment industry. This little film about the power of prayer working to save a troubled marriage cost $3.5 million to make and, in its first two weeks, grossed $30 million at the box office.

Yes, there’s a huge audience of people of faith who will support films with positive religious content. That’s an argument I’ve been making for 30 years, particularly with my 1992 book HOLLYWOOD VS. AMERICA.

But there’s something else noteworthy about WAR ROOM that many observers missed: all of the movie’s most important characters are black, showing successful, upper-middle class, religiously connected people who contrast radically with the thugs and drugs in standard exploitative fare about African-Americans. Apparently, the black community has responded to these more constructive images with gratitude: about half of the early audience for the film has been African American.

WAR ROOM gives us a number of reasons to be encouraged.

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  1. Brian Harmon, Retired Econ Professor  •  Sep 22, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Michael,
    I feel that your 1992 book Hollywood vs. America had a tremendous affect on the movie industry. You destroyed the old argument that they were “just giving people what they wanted” by producing mountains of trash.
    Then The Passion of the Christ came along to illustrate your point in a dramatic, even majestic way. More recently, Facing the Giants, Fire Proof, Courageous and other inexpensive but very profitable films have continued to make your point.
    I hope it doesn’t go to your head when people start calling you the greatest prophet of the 20th Century.

  2. Brian Harmon, Retired Econ Professor  •  Sep 22, 2015 at 2:35 am

    It will also be interesting to see how War Room affects the African American community. A fervent Christian faith burns in the hearts of a great many black Americans. It would be interesting, and a very good thing, if committed African American Christians start getting the positive media attention that they deserve.

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