Hollywood Studios in Terra Incognita with Christian Films

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Several bloggers are outraged over a recent report that a producer in Sony’s Mandalay Pictures tried to remove the words “Holy Bible” from a scene in which a character is reading the Bible. While the producer was undoubtedly wrong, I am less inclined to be hard on him.

Mandalay Pictures got to produce the movie version of Bethany Hamilton’s life. She’s the young surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003. Her parents, well known for being devout Christians, prayed through her recovery and encouraged her to return to pro surfing. They agreed to allow Sony to make the film partially in hopes that their faith would be included.
One poignant scene in the movie shows actor Dennis Quaid (posing as Bethany’s dad) reading the Bible while he sits with her in the hospital. Producers decided after the fact to obscure the words on the cover. Only after completion when the Hamilton family attended an initial screening did they notice the faux pas.
Sony relented and put it back in, but the damage was done.  Conservative bloggers are busy calling the producer a bigot.
Yes, I agree, the producer is obviously a doofus who thinks the very sight of a Bible is offensive. He was not only wrong for deleting the words, he was also wrong for doing it in post behind the Hamiltons’ backs. Thank God upper management at Sony was willing to go forward with putting it back.
Now where do we go from there?
In an ideal world, Christians would expect studios to treat them fairly from day one. Yet we know the world is not perfect, we know our faith is a stumblingblock to nonbelievers, and we know we’re commanded to respect those in places of authority, including people who own the studios we want to produce our movies.
We also know that ten years ago a movie like Soul Surfer would not have been made. The past decade has brought huge steps to fill the gap between church and studio. 2011 will see Soul Surfer, The Grace Card and Frontier Boys, all films infused with Christian themes, hitting theaters.
It should surprise exactly no one that Sony producers are struggling to understand an emerging genre. They began their careers thinking they would never have to make decisions about where to a place a Bible while telling Dennis Quaid to look prayerful. For many of these producers, working on a Christian project likely feels as if they’re walking on Mars.

There will be growing pains as these two communities, long seen as arch-enemies, try to forge a relationship. It may be a bumpy start, but it is a start nonetheless.

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0 responses to “Hollywood Studios in Terra Incognita with Christian Films

  1. Well then, the only logical conclusion is that the no. 1 priority of those Hollywood “bizmen” is not really making $. It’s about their leftwing ideology. It’s about debasing our culture.

    • Eowyn,
      That’s it in a nutshell. Most producers inside the machine in Hollywood would rather release a horror film with passable sales than to release something more profitable they’d have to actually get creative with.

  2. You are all very good w/differing insights. This reminds me of when Hollywood made “The Last Temptation of Christ” w/Willem DaFoe as Christ. I had read the book years before the movie, and was surprised how closely the movie stayed to Nikos Kazantzakis’s story, as controversial as it was as a book.

  3. Sony is owned by Jewish men who are not doofs. I am a Christian and though they always request certain things removed from Christian film but somehow they always leave it alone. God is in control and those doofs as you call them spend thousands of dollars on Christian film.


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