NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Producers of faith-based movies have a message for Hollywood studios: Make the movies and customers will pay to watch them.
The enormous success of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004 shocked Tinseltown when it grossed $611 million worldwide. Despite the huge profit, the production of faith-based movies became stagnant, arguably because of low box office numbers.
Support for such films has picked up in recent years with the success of movies like "Fireproof" in 2008 and now this year's "Jumping the Broom" and "Soul Surfer."
"Fireproof," about a couple's struggle to save their marriage, cost $500,000 to make and earned about $34 million domestically. "Jumping the Broom" focused on forgiveness and the attempt by two families to meld despite their differences. It was made with a budget of a little over $6 million and has taken in about $37 million since it hit theaters in May. "Soul Surfers" cost $18 million to make and has brought in more than $42 million since its release in April.
Backers of faith-based movies say the figures indicate people are turning out for films that reflect their beliefs and they don't expect the support to wane.
"I think everything is just kind of happening at the right time," said Sony vice president of production DeVon Franklin, who bought the "Jumping the Broom" script and put the movie together. "There's a demand for the films. They're proving that there's a business here. And I think that's what Hollywood is seeing."
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