Some random thoughts and perspectives to consider . . .
I have been amazed at the amount of generational disconnect ensuing from Disney’s latest attempt at A Wrinkle in Time. It seems that kids and teenagers have enjoyed the film thoroughly, giving it an 89% rating on CinemaScore. However, adults have been far less kind, granting Wrinkle a 61% rating. I remember walking out of the screening a few weeks ago and commented to another member of the audience that it was probably going to have a split reaction. I just didn’t realize how prescient my thoughts were. The difference in scores can be attributed to numerous factors, but I present three for you to consider:
- Adults have a difficult time putting themselves in the shoes of a child when viewing a film expressly meant for kids. DuVernay mentioned that Wrinkle was meant for 8-12 year-olds, so that means that group will enjoy it the most. I noted in my review that adults have to put a new set of glasses on to enjoy it the same way. Sadly, it seems many folks haven’t tried that option–yet.
- Adults were expecting an adult film. That simply wasn’t going to be the case, especially if you read the source material. The disappointment is reflected in the critical reviews. I thought that might be the case, actually hypothesizing that the final Rotten Tomatoes score would be 40%. For the first time in my life, I was correct (it probably won’t happen again).
- There has also been a rather large undercurrent of angst online toward screenwriter Jennifer Lee, who explained that she specifically took out Christian elements from the book in her script. I am perplexed as to why this is even an issue. So what if Mindy Kaling doesn’t quote 1 Corinthians 1:25-28 when Meg visits Camazotz? It would’ve been nice, but it’s not completely necessary. Regardless of what Ms. Lee tried, she was unable to get rid of L’Engle’s underlying themes. This is where we have the opportunity to dialogue with others about light, darkness, love, hope, and the Christian faith. Just because something’s not immediately obvious doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. It just makes us think more.
There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the surprising third-place box office finish of I Can Only Imagine. It scored a very respectable 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and earned $17 million in its first weekend. For many in the faith community, this isn’t surprising at all. But there may be a reason for the success that you may have not considered.
Back when Mel Gibson put The Passion of the Christ out for people to reflect upon, he employed a unique (for that
time) method of marketing. He got pastors and members of the Christian community to see the film in advance, then encouraged them to bring their congregations to the cinema. As a result, theaters were packed and good word of mouth helped propel Passion to the largest ever box office tally for a faith-based film–$370 million. Today, many faith-based films use this method of promotion, which can perhaps be described as front-loading the box office. In this case, pack out the theaters on Thursday and Friday via church groups and Christian radio stations, then hope people continue to flock to the theater in the following days. Normally, this method fizzles unless the product on the screen is good (as it should be, honestly). But it also produces a measure of caution when considering any revenue numbers from faith-based films in their opening week. We’ll get to put this to the test in a week when God’s Not Dead 3 premieres (EDIT: the opening weekend was a very paltry $2.6 million).
I’m sure you had an opportunity to check out the latest trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s crammed with every last character from the Marvel universe (minus Hawkeye). So many characters only means one thing: someone’s going to die. But who? I have absolutely no clue, but my guess is Iron Man will be among the final casualties. What do you think? Post a comment and let me know!
Two other films piquing my interest are Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald and Ernest Cline’s magnum opus Ready Player One. We’ll have to wait until November for the former; the latter will make its way to theaters next week. It’s going to be a feast for those of us who love the 1980s and will hopefully remind us of the lines between real life and virtual reality. But for a few hours, I’m going into the Oasis. A review will be coming—bank on it.
Finally, I recently had the privilege to serve as a judge for the Christian Youth Film Festival. The event, currently in its 24th year, is intended to celebrate the talents of high school and college students in the world of filmmaking. A feature-length film composed, designed, and written by high schoolers was premiered in addition to the festival entries. After talking with a number of the entrants, I discovered there are some impressively talented students out there in the areas of cinematography, scriptwriting, acting, and graphic design. A panel discussion was held with the judges where we talked about how to make and create impactful movies with lasting messages, how to tell timeless truths without beating them into the ground, and how serving and giving of oneself is the best way to make an Christ-like impression in Hollywood.
If you’re interested in submitting for next year’s festival, visit their website at christianyouthfilmfestival.org. (Thank you to Joe Brown [middle of picture above] for making the experience an incredible one)
To give you an idea of the students’ work, here’s the Best Picture winner for high school (in addition to three other awards). You may want to grab a tissue or two.