Why Religious Movies Are Luring Mainstream Stars

But even with more marketable star names, faith-based films face a challenge — Heaven Is for Real, for instance, drew much of its audience from the Bible Belt, cities in the South, the Midwest and in rural California. They also risk alienating the core audience if their stories don’t toe the doctrinal line. Two years ago, Chris Stone of the Christian marketing group Faith Driven Consumer took aim at Paramount’s Noah for taking too many liberties with the biblical text, creating a headache for the studio. Even when the faithful do embrace a film, the returns can be lackluster. Focus’ The Young Messiah, based on Anne Rice’s evangelical-minded novel about Jesus’ boyhood, opened to $3.3 million over the March 11 weekend.

Given the potential liabilities, one agent for up-and-coming stars says he will wait for a few more hits. “I wouldn’t put my young clients in a faith-based film, even one with a great script,” says the agent. “It’s still seen as polarizing.”

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