I have a friend who is a movie critic for a faith-based periodical who sometimes takes me along to screenings. (Critics have a special showing weeks before the movie comes out so that they can give their reviews). One particular movie, which we were screening, had already stirred some content controversy, and he assumed that the producers wouldn’t invite him in fear of bad press. However, not only was he surprised that he was indeed invited, but more so that they made sure he would attend. On the ride over, we were intrigued as to why. Was it because there was a surprise moral consequence at the end of an otherwise ethically deprived movie? Maybe there was an attempt to reach his audience? Nope. It was just what the trailer had promised.
I was half expecting someone to come up to us later and ask if we could attempt to organize one of those “mass boycotts”. So what course of action can we as believers do when the assaulters of what we hold dear welcome our rebukes as “any press is good press”? It would be against conscience to do nothing, right?
To answer this dilemma, one must understand how Hollywood work$. (Misspell intended.) Marketers have done their homework. They already know that you, as a member of the Christian demographic, won’t go see this movie, and quite frankly, they don’t care. That is, they don’t care as long as you voice your opinion to the other demographics, which in turn sparks their curiosity. The marketers are after their money and you have just been duped into giving free and effective publicity.
Here is what has been suggested as the most effective approach. When a movie, which DOES have morals and content that you are in favor of shows up in the theaters, go see it on its opening weekend. Opening weekend box office numbers are the litmus test of movie “success”, creates buzz and gives managers an idea how long to keep it in the theaters. In turn, when a movie comes out which you do not approve of its message or content, on its opening weekend, go to the same theaters (without picket signs) and see ANOTHER MOVIE that has content / message closer to your convictions. Even if that movie has been in the theaters for a weekend or two, congruent playing movies are in high competition against each other for theater numbers. Yes, first weekend theater prices are high, but waiting until it hits the discount theaters or DVD don’t count nearly as much in the numbers game. If you want to go the extra mile, send your ticket stub to the studio (Fox, Paramount, Columbia, etc) of your cleaner movie the movie you chose to go to, with your age, race, gender, how often you go to the movies (for demographic / target audience identification), email address and an explanation as to why you are sending your ticket stub. Why you preferred the cleaner movie you chose to go to over the other and be specific. Even hand write it. Most marketers figure if someone takes the time to send a letter, there are probably a few others with the same opinion who didn’t bother. If you include your phone number and they send your number off to marketing survey (which they may very well do) take the time and answer the survey (some may take 10 minutes). Your opinion transforms to numbers, and then statistics and those statistics count.
On a side note, most marketers don’t yet see the Christian demographic as a lucrative target audience. We have had great strides in becoming so, but one of the issues is that Christians as a demographic only go to select movies and in few small numbers. We can change that. Go see a movie.
By Chuck Hayes, Actor/Writer