Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Disney Dumps Dawn Treader

Well, it's official. Disney has dropped out of the Narnia franchise and won't participate in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader." See story at Reuters.com

This could be a bad time for Walden Media or a freeing time, it depends on who they collaborate with to complete this epic franchise.

Disney was always timid about the Christian imagery in the Narnia stories. During "The Lion Witch and Wardrobe," Disney emphasized the secular messages in the film while Walden and Douglas Gresham (Lewis' stepson) launched a religious grassroots marketing strategy. Both Disney and Walden ignored the religious market when promoting "Prince Caspian," assuming that the first episode would be enough impetus for the Christian "underground" to carry their water.

Unfortunately, a prevailing message that preceeded the opening of Caspian was that "it is much more violent that LW&WR...more like 'Lord of the Rings'." This was a needless turnoff, since the level of violence is pretty much the same in both episodes, it's just that there are more battle scenes in Caspian.

I heard that Walden made a calculated error by postponing the opening of "Prince Caspian" to give "Nim's Island" which opened April 4th a better chance against competition. That decision did nothing to help "Nim's Island." In fact, Caspian's debute of May 15th was quickly deflated by "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" which opened May 21st.

I believe that a Fox-Walden co-production will help greatly in making sure the message is pure Lewis, and in marketing the film properly to faith-based, faith-friendly and family-friendly audiences.

Of course, there is also a possibility that Sony may want to play a role, given Amy Pascal's recent comments about looking for more family-oriented opportunities.

In the final analysis...Aslan is still on the move!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christian Entertainment Review

This issue introduces Family Entertainment Central and its partners; The Dove Foundation, Parents Television Council and Plain Games. Click on the cover and enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Simplify Your Life


Life is complicated enough, especially if you are a parent or grandparent. Beyond the normal workday, there’s shopping to be done, kids’ soccer practices or swimming matches to attend, morning Bible studies and mid-week church services, choir practices, family gatherings, and the list goes on.

Not much spare time for relaxation – even with all the electronic innovations that promise to ‘simplify’ our lives. So, once in a while, it’s nice to take a night off and go see the latest movie. If you’re a homebody, you may prefer watching a hotly promoted “family hour” sitcom on TV, or pop in a new DVD you rented or purchased. If there are children around, you may even be coaxed into playing some new-fangled video game.

But, what do you know about the content of that movie, DVD, TV sitcom or video game before you commit yourself and your family to watch it. I know; who has time to pre-screen every movie, television program or video game before subjecting your family to the experience? (more)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Here is an email exchange I had last week with Karina, a college student interested in the issue of movie, television content. I wanted to share with you a typical request that I receive quite frequently from students across the country who are concerned about the amount of violence, profanity and sex in movies and on television. They are eager to find out what, if anything, can be done to improve the entertainment landscape. I’m glad to give them an honest and hopeful response. The insights we gain due to our access to the highest levels within the entertainment industry reveal many encouraging signs.

I'm privileged to be in a position to encourage and equip young people like Karina.

________________________________________________________


Hello,I am Karina (last name withheld) and I'm writing a paper for a college assignment that requires the use of sources. I would like to source The Dove Foundation in an interview. I would very thankful for any responses regarding the topic I am writing about.

Q: Why do you think it is important for people to restrict what they watch?

A: The adage "garbage in - garbage out" certainly applies where media consumption/influence is concerned. There are over 600 independent studies that directly attribute media influence to human behavior - for good or bad. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following excellent guidelines for television watching. http://www.aap.org/publiced/BR_TV.htm. I've always been amused by television producers who deny their hour-long violent or sexually suggestive programs have any influence on viewer behavior; while at the same time television advertising executives claim that a 60 second commercial can change the buying habits of the very same viewers. Recently two studies coincided to make that point. First, Barna Research stated that church leaders, once the third greatest influence on children (after parents and peers) have been replaced by entertainment media. Church leaders fell out of the top ten. Couple that with the recent American Academy of Pediatrics paper (http://aap.org/advocacy/releases/nov08studies.htm) which ties teen pregnancy to the amount of exposure to sexually themed television programs, and you have pretty compelling data.

Q: Have movies became worse (more filthy) than the past 5 years? 10 years?

A: This is a trend that Harvard Medical School in 2007 called "Ratings Creep" which states that movie ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R) have become increasingly lax. I addressed this subject in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Starz Network. Here is a link http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=efa24b495f00d30b29e8

Q: Why do you think filth sells so well? Shouldn't producers be more concerned with a good story than an attractive star?

A: I agree with your assertion that producers should be more concerned with the story. However, filth doesn't sell as well as some would have you believe. There will always be an audience for coarse or filthy entertainment. Similarly, a streaker or a bridge jumper will attract a certain crowd of curiosity seekers. We released the film profitability study in 2005 points to the contrary. We showed that while Hollywood produced 12 times more R-rated movies than G, the average G-rated film produced 11 times more profit per film than their R-rated counterparts. Here is a link to that study. http://www.dove.org/research/DoveFoundationROI-Study2005.pdf. To identify the reasons for those data, we surveyed 8 million people and asked them their opinions of the entertainment industry. Here is a link to a report with their responses. http://dove.org/opinionpoll.asp.

Q: What can be expected in the future? Do you think movies will become more twisted and wicked?

A: It's always difficult to see into the future. I believe that Hollywood like most industries is amoral in that they see their first priority as satisfying their stockholders/investors. There is another powerful force at play in Hollywood that greatly influences decisions; and that is ego. However, here are a few encouraging signs that kinder, gentler movies are on the rise. With 18 years' experience as a family advocate to the entertainment industry, we have trusted relationships with top level executives in most major film studios. Four filmmakers deleted profanities from their theatrical releases in order to qualify for the Dove Family-Approved Seal. Twentieth Century Fox has developed an entire brand of movies that are family friendly under the banner "FoxFaith" located at http://www.foxfaith.com/. Paramount is beginning to focus more of their DreamWorks budgets on animated movies like Shrek, Madagascar and Wallace and Grommet . Sony Pictures has a faith and family division in their home entertainment division. Sony Co-chairman, Amy Pascal just publicly committed major resources to "catch up" with Disney in serving the family audience. (See LA Times article. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-fi-sony17-2008nov17,0,1628203.story )

I hope these answers to your questions help in your assignment.

Kind Regards,

Dick Rolfe, CEO

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Story Behind FIREPROOF

In 2002, two brothers who are pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA read a Barna Research story which stated that media have the greatest impact on the upcoming generation. Churches, which used to be the 3rd or 4th greatest influence with children and teens, have now dropped out of the Top 10. Alex and Stephen Kendrick decided to make movies to reach out to unchurched people and help get them interested in the things of God. Click here for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

FIREPROOF and The Dove Foundation review

As you're purchasing tickets and inviting people to go with you to see FIREPROOF the movie, they may want to know more about the film. The Dove Foundation review of FIREPROOF says a lot:

"Kirk Cameron has done his best acting yet as Capt. Caleb Holt, a firefighter who believes that his stressful life allows him to ignore his wife. Erin Bethea gives a stirring performance as Catherine Holt, Caleb's wife and a career-oriented PR director at the local hospital."

"It is a wonderful movie with dashes of humor and plenty of drama including exciting rescue scenes. Due to a sophisticated theme, FIREPROOF is more for the over-age-12 set. We gladly award five Doves, our highest rating, to this picture. Every couple in America should see this film! It is a life-changing experience. Viewers will never be able to look at marriage in the same way again."

Read the entire Dove Foundation review here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

MPAA RATINGS CREEP - DOVE'S DON'T

Here is an interview I did opposite the head of the Motion Picture Association's Classification and Ratings Board. Notice the differences in our "standards" and how they are applied to the movies we review.

video

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

FIREPROOF opens in theaters Sept. 26

Captain Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. Inside burning buildings, it's his natural instinct. In the cooling embers of his marriage, it's another story.After a decade of marriage, Caleb and Catherine Holt have drifted so far apart that they are ready to move on without each other. Yet as they prepare to enter divorce proceedings, Caleb's dad asks his son to try an experiment: The Love Dare.While hoping The Love Dare has nothing to do with his parents' newfound faith, Caleb commits to the challenge. But can he attempt to love his wife while avoiding God's love for him? Will he be able to demonstrate love over and over again to a person that's no longer receptive to his love? Or is this just another marriage destined to go up in smoke?

Fireproof is the third feature film from Sherwood Pictures and the Kendrick Brothers—the creators of Facing The Giants & Flywheel. With hope-filled storytelling, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church continues touching the world from Albany, Georgia.Opening only in theatres in September 2008, Fireproof will have audiences of all ages laughing and crying as they are inspired by this story of perseverance and commitment.


See the trailer here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Walden Media Gets "Savvy"

This just in from Cinematical.com:
July 21st 2008 2:40PM
Magical trends just never end! According to Variety, Walden Media has hired Karen Janszen to adapt Ingrid Law's book Savvy, which only just hit bookstores a few months ago. The rights have been optioned at least that long, but it looks like Walden is really racing it into production.Savvy follows a family called the Beaumonts, who all boast remarkable superpowers.

The hero of the story is young Mibs, who is quickly approaching her thirteenth birthday and the discovery of her own superpower or "savvy." Unfortunately for the Beaumonts, disaster strikes right on the fateful day, and Mibs finds herself in the midst of an adventure, where she will have to try to hide her new "savvy" when it makes itself known.

It sounds like The Incredibles, with a dash of Harry Potter and X-Men for color. Interestingly, the story behind Savvy's publication is reminiscent of J.K. Rowling's. Law hails from my home state of Colorado, and all kinds of press outlets are making much of the fact that she resides in a mobile home with her daughter. That's not a bad thing! My grandma lived in one, and I have very fond memories of it. Anyway, if the success of Savvy has allowed her to move on to a grander home, that's cool, and I wish my fellow Rockies resident continued fortune.

If you're interested in reading the book for free, Penguin has released it online. Unfortunately, this freebie ends today, so I hope you're a fast reader. And if you've read it already, please sound off on its movie potential below!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Does the movie match the audience?

Three compound words that are widely used to describe various types of wholesome movies, but lacking clear definitions are, “faith-based,” “faith-friendly,” and “family-friendly.” Distinguishing one category from another is not easy, in that there are gray areas between them. I’ve used movie titles to help define each category. (Continue here)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Speaking of 3-D...

I just read the following summary report from Nielson Research about consumer reactions to 3-D movies. The sales increases may help boost sales for "Journey to the Center of the Earth," given the fact that there are fewer screens equipped with 3-D which limits the size of the release.

NIELSEN FINDS STRONG CONSUMER APPETITE FOR 3-D FILMS BUT WEAK AWARENESS
Amsterdam, NL (June 23, 2008) - The Nielsen Company today reported that there is strong consumer appetite for 3-D films, based on a detailed analysis, that showed a 65% sales increase in theatres using 3-D technology to exhibit their moviesThe analysis, which was unveiled today by Nielsen PreView at the Cine Expo conference in The Netherlands, compared the film's performance in comparable theatres with a proven track record in the action/adventure genre. This like-to-like comparison provides a more sophisticated understanding on the impact of 3-D than other studies that simply looked at the performance of the movie in 3-D and 2-D theatres regardless of their historical ability to attract action/adventure movies."With all the upcoming hype around 3-D, we wanted to take a hard look and see if there is truly a consumer appetite for 3-D." says Ann Marie Dumais, SVP, Nielsen PreView . "Our new research approach contrasted theatres in such a way to demonstrate consumers, when given a choice, will choose 3-D."Nielsen PreView's 3-D study analyzed over 4,000 theatres in the United States. The research found theatres with at least one screen exhibiting in 3-D had a 65% increase in box office sales compared to their 2-D counterparts. Further, those theatres that chose to exhibit in 3-D on more than one screen saw their sales climb yet even higher to 100% versus what was expected, indicating that one 3-D screen per theatre may not be enough to satisfy consumer demand.While consumers have an appetite for 3-D films, they often lack awareness and education around what 3-D is and where to find it. In a recent Nielsen survey, 48% were unaware that their movie choices were even available in 3-D. The numbers cited in this study are likely to go even higher for the industry with increased marketing support and consumer education.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Journey 3-D - a summer movie worth seeing.

Walden Media and New Line Cinema (now folded into parent company, Warner Bros.) is about to release "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in the new digital 3D format.

According to portfolio.com, Cary Granat, the CEO of Walden Media, is living his own three-dimensional nail-biter. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" will be the first major live-action, digital 3D release when it comes out July 11. It's a huge gamble this early in the gestation of 3D cinema. The movie's story is basically Indiana Jones Goes Spelunking. Its big selling point is its 3D visuals. "We created a 3D map (of the story) and hired writers to write to the map," says Granat, best known for making the Narnia movies. He initially hoped to open Journey in 1,700 theaters equipped for 3D. About 1,000 are ready. Granat, though, sounds confident. "I believe in 3D greatly," he pledges.

I've seen the film and I loved it! Here is an excerpt of my email to Walden Media president, Micheal Flaherty.
Great job!!! We had a blast watching this wild ride of an adventure film! The story could be subtitled, "'Temple of Doom' meets 'National Treasure.'" It's smart, thrilling, funny, spine-tingling without being dark or grotesque. The cast is well balanced and credible as their on-screen characters. Brandon Fraser is perfectly suited for his character. He's a favorite actor of mine, especially his charmingly naive, but brave character in "Blast form the Past." This one should do very well at the b.o. unless "Hellboy" or "Meet Dave" get any traction.

The Dove Foundation review can be found at http://www.dove.org/reviewpopup.asp?Unique_ID=7273

There is a shortage of high quality family adventure movies. When one comes out we need to get behind it as a message of encouragement to the industry, "give us more!"