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

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. 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 ( 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

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. 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.

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 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.,0,1628203.story )

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

Kind Regards,

Dick Rolfe, CEO