The concluding dialog in this trailer for The Bible, the 10-part mini-series which aired on The History Channel March 3, includes a question: “What are we going to do?” The actor replies: “Change the world.” This is precisely a major theme at Regent University: Equipping Christian leaders to change the world. Our accelerated programs inspire and equip Christian leaders who are also storytellers and whose works will inspire, transform and enrich our culture through media.
I believe this compelling mini-series will become one of the most widely distributed TV dramas ever produced. The stories of redemption so vividly portrayed will open the way for God to inspire men and women to realize that He is the answer to life’s struggles. This miniseries will promote the Christian faith worldwide for many years to come.
Why is The History Channel airing this series? Because it will be profitable, and it fits the channel’s core rationale: History.
Christian themes, including fiction and nonfiction films distributed in wide release, have grossed approximately $1.2 billion since 1999 as reported by Box Office Mojo (the chart states “since 1980,” but the earliest film on the list was 1999). The average figure for wide release is $64 million. The History Channel has made a smart business decision. These figures don’t include non-theatrical sales such as DVD distribution. When non-theatrical figures are applied, revenues from box office hit The Passion of the Christ alone exceeded $600 million.
The Bible is a historical record. The characters portrayed in this series are historical persons whose human struggles—sin, failure, betrayal, redemption—are the same as they have been since God created man and woman. Audiences identify with these struggles.
Hollywood was caught off guard with the overwhelming success of movies like The Passion of the Christ, Soul Surfer, and Courageous. This blog from Forbes by Paul Jankowski quotes Movieguide observing that family-oriented movies make more money than movies with higher instances of sex and violence. Indeed, audiences prefer movies with no explicit sex, nudity and foul language. Although the new miniseries on the Bible will deal with strong themes that include violence and sex, its redemptive message will appeal to an audience that longs for solutions to life’s grand dilemmas filled with hopelessness. The Bible provides those answers.
In addition, churches across the country are engaging with this film, setting up small group meetings among their congregations to discuss the episodes. This grassroots systematic involvement of churches and faith-based communities makes for targeted marketing and should be effective, fueled by social media: Twitter, Facebook, and other communication platforms. At Regent’s School of Communication & the Arts, we educate and equip students to tell compelling visual stories like those in this series! We equip Christian storytellers to change the world!