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Family Christian dives into film industry Print Email
Written by Michael Conrad   
Thursday, 08 January 2015 12:40 PM America/New_York

90-minutes-heavenThe idea that turned the nation’s largest Christian retail chain into a financial engine to support widows and orphans is expanding to the film industry.

On Monday, Jan. 26, Family Christian Stores’ new sister company, Family Christian Entertainment, begins the Atlanta shoot of 90 Minutes in Heaven, the 2004 New York Times best-selling book (7 million-plus sold) about Pastor Don Piper’s death experience.  Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns) and Hayden Christensen (Star Wars, Jumper) star.  Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Big Sur) directs.

In 1989, Don Piper died in an automobile accident (paramedics had covered him with a tarp) when another pastor at the site prayed over him. Before Piper returned to life, and to a protracted physical recovery, he saw heaven, met family members, friends, church folks, teachers … even joined the procession as a heavenly choir entered heaven’s gates.

Piper, who knows well his story’s effect, is eager to see it translate into theaters.

“In the 10 years since the book’s release—in 46 languages—the response always is personal and moving to each reader,” he said. “To think now that it’s also going to be a film is humbling and gratifying—and for Family Christian Entertainment to produce it is immensely exciting.”

90 Minutes Executive Producer Rick Jackson says the film is just the beginning for Family Christian Entertainment. 

“We know our audience, we know the power of stories, and we plan to make at least two films a year,” Jackson said. “In production, in quality, budgets and professionalism, the Christian and family markets have matured, and we’re upping the ante more.” 

Jackson founded and is CEO of Jackson Healthcare, the nation’s third-largest health care staffing company. He and two other investors formed Family Christian Ministries, a 501C-3 holding company that owns Family Christian Stores, IDisciple, Family Christian Entertainment—and sends 100% of retail profits to Christian charities.  

Jackson added that Family Christian Entertainment is open to all sources for ideas—from developing original scripts to ideas that come in the door.  “And we’ll stay true to the story,” he said. “When faith is a factor, it stays in.”   

While Family Christian Stores leads in sales of Christian DVDs, Jackson emphasizes that FCE theatrical films, as they become DVDs, will sell far beyond Family Christian Stores. And again, all movie profits will go to charities.