Other Questions The Shack Raises
The Shack, believe it or not, has brought up some good questions and may bring some informative but not easy answers. At first, I was thinking, how would I advertise a big-budget Christian movie? My first thoughts were ones that would probably not appeal to non-Christians. Then I thought about what it would take to reach the “unchurched.” I thought if I showed people honestly questioning faith, it would be a good start. It hit me, that for better or worse that’s what The Shack did. Then I realized for all the controversy of The Shack, it raises several important questions, including ones that go right to the heart of our documentary, Breaking Good.
What’s the controversy? Well, there are a lot of people who either say that The Shack is a great Christian movie that gets it right, or that The Shack is full of heresy. Even though I have my opinions, I’m not going to get into the particulars of that argument, because I want to talk about the argument itself. The important questions I see in The Shack are; what is a Christian movie, what should it contain, how many and what kind of liberties should be taken in the name of fiction? These are important questions but I’m afraid there is no easy answer but many opinions and even more questions. These additional questions include what audience should Christian movies be aiming for? Should Christian movies always contain a gospel message? Do they have to at least mention Jesus or even God? What is the point of a Christian movie? These are some of the questions we’re going to attempt to answer. However, my hypothesis is that with many opinions and a diversity of filmmakers, instead of one simple answer we may end with Christian movie sub-genres that are almost like denominations. I’m not a fan of denominations but it seems like they are necessary.
So why do we need to ask these questions? I think it would be a good frame of reference, not only for Christian filmmakers and actors but also for audiences. Just like you know what you get when you go into a Methodist or a Southern Baptist church, you may expect certain things from certain subgenres of Christian films. There already seems to exist genres of end-times movies, Heaven visiting movies, and many years back, angel movies. Future defined genres may include gospel message movies, faith driven character movies and fully secular movies with subtle faith themes.
Besides delving into the hopes and dreams and motivations of filmmakers, I also hope this documentary will further develop a discussion that will help grow the depth and breadth of Christian films and the Christian film market. We hope to look back and see what Christian filmmakers are trying to accomplish, see what audiences are looking for and expect, and see where the two meet. We’ll see if more than one type of Christian film can and should be supported.
So one last thing about The Shack, it’s already made more than the estimated production budget of $20 million. That’s not the highest grossing Christian movie or the most profitable but it is profitable. Interestingly enough though the Rotten Tomatoes score is at about 18% and what we’ve come to expect for most Christian movies. Most of the reviewers seemed to have good things to say about what The Shack was trying to do even though they ultimately rated it rotten. The audience score however, is very high and that kind of contrast is also typical for Christian movies. So The Shack has an audience but is it reaching non-Christians? I can’t tell yet, but that’s one answer that will become more clear over time.
Please visit the campaign for our documentary at www.breakinggoodfilm.net and feel free to ask us questions or suggest ideas or perks.