Christian Retailing

New films, music build excitement among Christian retailers Print Email
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 04:25 PM America/New_York

Word Entertainment executive believes ‘retail is getting it’ when it comes to promotion of faith-based films

ShaneHarper-DavidARWhiteUpcoming faith-based theatrical releases and new DVDs were front and center at ICRS, with retailers treated to screenings, trailers and DVDs, and celebrity signings.

Producer and star of God’s Not Dead David A.R. White signed copies of the DVD with co-star Shane Harper on the floor and spoke about the film’s success at a breakfast event. To date, it is the No. 1 independent film of 2014, with the DVD released Aug. 5.

“We are very excited about how well it has done,” White said. “It will help pave the way for us to make even more films that we believe in.”

Sony’s Affirm Films hosted retailers at a suite away from the convention center at the Omni Hotel, inviting them to screenings of its two upcoming theatrical releases, the supernatural horror thriller The Remaining, due out this fall, and When the Game Stands Tall, the story of the De La Salle Spartans high school football team and its legendary Coach Bob Ladouceur, played by Jim Caviezel and due in theaters Aug. 22.

“Both films were received very well,” said Rich Peluso, senior vice president of Affirm Films. “People seemed to really enjoy them.”

City on a Hill Productions invited key retailers to a private reception, followed by two convention-wide screenings of The Song, an adaptation of the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. Richard Ramsey, Louisville, Kentucky-based screenwriter and director takes the biblical King Solomon and portrays him as a modern-day singer-songwriter who succumbs to sins of the flesh.

Nashville-based actors Alan Powell (in the role of Jed King) and Caitlin Nicol (Shelby Bale) were on hand for the reception and screenings and played and sang the title track from the movie for an audience of several hundred.

Small group curriculum and other church resources will release at the same time as The Song, which opens in about 400 theaters Sept. 26.

Convention-goers also were invited to a public screening of One Media and Millennium Entertainment’s July 18 political thriller Persecuted, starring James Remar, singer Natalie Grant and former Senator Fred Thompson and written, directed and produced by Daniel Lusko. In the movie, a senator frames a popular evangelist for murder because he is standing in the way of sweeping religious reform.

Life-sized images of actor Nicolas Cage greeted retailers on the exhibit floor, as he is starring in the fall remake of Left Behind, based on the blockbuster novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Producer Paul Lalonde and his brother Peter produced the original film that released 14 years ago, starring Kirk Cameron. Now Paul returns solo with Left Behind: The End Begins, also starring Chad Michael Murray and Jordin Sparks. The $16 million Oct. 3 release focuses only on the rapture.

“Our approach this time is completely different,” Lalonde said. “We’ve upped the cast and upped the budget a lot.”

Suppliers and distributors hope that generating excitement for films will propel DVD sales, which can help offset the decline in music sales.

“I think retail is getting it,” said Dusty Wells, senior vice president of national accounts at Word Entertainment. “Some of our key retailers seemed much more excited about films this year.”

Wells said that music still has some legs and pointed to the success of bands like For King and Country who performed Sunday.

“I loved hearing all the buzz about them,” Wells said. —Natalie Gillespie