2000: Return to Him-Part 1

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2001
Dr. Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of MovieGuide®, gives a surprising analysis of the movies released during the year 2000, and how movies with a “Christian” or “family friendly” message fared against those with secular, occult and/or sexual themes.

2000: Return to Him—Part 1

That was the year that was:

  • 2000 was the year that movies with Christian worldviews did better than ever at the box office.
  • 2000 was the year that 118 movies with positive Christian content and/or worldview were released in movie theaters.
  • 2000 was the year the Grinch stole the box office, with help from Jim Carrey and some quotes from the Book of Who.
  • 2000 was the year Hollywood asked moviegoers to REMEMBER THE TITANS.
  • 2000 was the year that the Roman spectacle once more threatened the republic.
  • 2000 was the year Tom Hanks was CAST AWAY without the wit and wisdom of Robinson Crusoe, but Tom still mined box office gold while he talked to a basketball.
  • 2000 was the year CHARLIE’S ANGELS learned how to fly.
  • 2000 was the year Hollywood made a really SCARY MOVIE.
  • 2000 was the year the Summer Blockbuster almost went bust.
  • 2000 was the year that the home video market earned nearly three times as much as the theatrical box office.
  • 2000 was the year that Washington continued to fiddle while Hollywood burned.
  • 2000 was the year Tom Cruise and John Woo made winning the summer box office a MISSION: MOST LIKELY.
  • 2000 was the year G-rated movies did twice as well as R-rated movies.
  • 2000 was the year PG movies did three times as well as R-rated movies.
  • 2000 was the year sex did not sell–again.
  • 2000 was the year foul language did not sell.
  • 2000 was the year graphic nudity did not sell.
  • 2000 was the year drug use did not sell.
  • 2000 was the year that independent movies ran out of steam.
  • 2000 was the year that the King of the Jungle, TARZAN, ruled the hidden box office, with $268 million in home video sales, nearly $15 million more than THE GRINCH.
  • 2000 was the year that THE CONTENDER was not.
  • 2000 was the year Julia Roberts became ERIN BROCKOVICH.
  • 2000 was the year director Steven Soderbergh learned how to drive in TRAFFIC while talking to ERIN BROCKOVICH.
  • 2000 was the year the Surgeon General finally cried, “Foul!”
  • 2000 was the year in which movies reflecting Christian and biblical principles and prac­tices continued to be more financially successful than those that don’t.
  • And finally, 2000 was the year that ended with the celebration of the reason for the Millennium, the King of All Kings, Jesus Christ.

Bless the Christ Child

If audiences and pundits are not too bedazzled by the scary movies of 2000 to see the handwriting on the wall, then the amazing news of the turn of the millennium is that movies with positive Christian content reached an all time high of 118 titles out of the 288 movies released theatrically! This is up from two movies with distinctly positive Christian content released in 1985 when we started publishing Movieguide® in 1985.

Some of these movies with Christian content were big winners at the box office, such as THE PATRIOT and REMEMBER THE TITANS. Even John Woo, the director of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, admitted to his Christian beliefs in an article in a major entertainment magazine when he was asked why there was so much Christian symbolism in his block­buster movie.

Better yet, the more Christian the content the better the movie did at the box office! In fact, the box office performance of movies with strong Christian content has increased dramatically over the last five years from an average of $2 million to an average of $35 million!

Best of all, these movies outperformed the competition without the publicity push and public relations spins of the worst movies of the year, some of which may have caused their distributors to scream when they realized all the money they had to put into marketing these dogs while movies with Christian content excelled. Thus, movies with strong Chris­tian content in 2000 earned nearly twice as much as movies with strong pagan, socialist or feminist content, more than three times as much as movies with strong occult or strong homosexual content, and more than four times as much as movies with strong anti-Chris­tian, anti-biblical or anti-Semitic content.

Finally, the trend in movies with an occult worldview seems to be slowing down a little bit. In 1999, we noted 10 movies which had a solid or strong occult worldview. This year, there were only 7 with a mild or strong occult worldview, a 30 percent decrease in number. Moreover, movies with a strong occult worldview made on average only $10,933,696 in 2000, compared to $86,625,970 in 1999. This is a significant 87 percent decrease!

Once again, and to reiterate, the MOVIEGUIDE® analysis of the box office results of all the movies released in the past year has clearly shown that movies which better reflect Christian and biblical principles and practices continue to be more financially suc­cessful on average than those which do not!

If Christians and other people get out and support such movies in the future, the results will be an even greater witness to the Hollywood community. MOVIEGUIDE® is the defini­tive guide to family and Christian movies and entertainment. It remains THE standard by which other reviews are measured.

What Moviegoers Want

With regard to the top performing movies of 2000, compared to the content of other similar categories, movies with strong Christian elements in the Top 25 earned $113,538,191 on average, whereas movies with strong anti-Christian, anti-Semitic or anti-biblical elements, strong Humanist elements, strong occult elements, or strong romantic elements earned nothing among the Top 25 Box Office Movies.

Furthermore, seventeen of the Top 25 Box Office Movies, or 68 percent, had at least some Christian and/or redemptive content, an increase of nearly 55 percent compared to 1999, in which there were only 11 such movies!

Also, with respect to the 2000 Top 25 Box Office Feature Films for the United States and Canada, please note that: family oriented PG-rated movies were the big winners in 2000, earning on average $165,540,319 which was 29 percent more than PG-13 movies ($127,910,024) and a whopping 39 percent more than R-rated movies ($119,370,073).

Finally, there were no movies in the Top 25 which had any pro-socialist or pro-Communist content; there were no movies in the Top 25 which had extreme instances of drug abuse; and, there was only one movie in the Top 25 which had extreme instances of alcohol abuse.

Whether one attended the morally reprehensible movies or attended the morally uplifting movies often depended on whether or not you were a media-wise individual. Of course, the best way to become media-wise is to read MOVIEGUIDE® so that you know before you or your children fork over your hard-earned dollars at the box office for the latest feature film.

All told, despite what the studios are putting out, the American people are voting with their ticket purchases for quality, moral movies, often with redemptive and even explicit Christian elements. That success should make any entertainment industry executive smile.

Proclaiming the Faith

After a strong showing by the independent release of the OMEGA CODE in 1998, more Christian movie makers got into the act of releasing overtly Christian movies theatrically. Providence Entertainment released the well-written movie, MERCY STREETS, and Cloud Ten released LEFT BEHIND on video in anticipation of a February, 2001 theatrical release.

A Basket Full of Hope

The independent movie world also saw the release of some high quality non-studio productions such as THE BASKET-one of the best movies of all time.

The Animator’s New Groove

Animation hit another high level of excellence with the release of the superb CHICKEN RUN, a non-Disney animated movie that ran away with the box office.

Disney found a fun new vision for their animation with THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE, produced by our faithful friend Don Hahn. Also, Disney’s DINOSAUR conquered the box office by telling a redeeming story without resorting to political correctness or evolu­tionary fantasies.

The Book of Who

Although it was a flawed attempt to bring a great television special to the big screen, DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS made the heart of the box office grow two sizes bigger by sticking with biblical themes such as inerrancy and caring for the outcasts and needy.

Family Men

Surprising those who think Hollywood is just interested in license, several movies came out in 2000 which extolled the virtue of the family over fame, fortune and fornication. These argu­ments for moral married life included DISNEY’S THE KID, FAMILY MAN and WHAT WOMEN WANT. Even movies with quite different themes extolled the virtues of the family, such as MEET THE PARENTS, REMEMBER THE TITANS, THE PATRIOT, and CAST AWAY.

Thus, by the end of the year, there was much to commend.

Vertical Limit

Common misconceptions in the entertainment industry are that sex and foul language sells. In fact, movies with no foul language in 2000 (averaging a whopping $37,550,868) earned on average: 111 percent more than movies with several uses of foul language (averaging $17,806,169); 52 percent more than movies with more than several uses of foul language (averaging $24,708,020); and, 72 percent more than movies with excessive foul language (averaging $21,884,419). Movies with no sex in 2000 (averaging $33,835,559) earned on average: 34 percent more than movies with at least one scene of implied sex, adultery, promiscuity, or sexual immorality (averaging $25,232,099); 170 percent more than movies with at least one scene of depicted sex, adultery, promiscuity, or sexual immorality (averaging $12,514,329); and, 125 percent more than movies with excessive or graphic sex scenes, adultery, promiscuity, or sexual immorality (averaging $15,068,855). Movies with no nudity in 2000 (averaging $26,633,305) earned on average: 78 percent more than movies with some sexual nudity (averaging $14,946,971); and, 84 percent more than movies with excessive or graphic nudity (averaging $14,493,227). Movies with no smoking or drug use (averaging $33,747,784) earned on average: 67 percent more than movies with some smoking or drug use (averaging $20,201,240); 60 percent more than movies with strong drug use (averaging $21,119,846); and, 240 percent more than movies with excessive drug use (averaging $9,916,979).

Just Looking

All this good news is not to say that there weren’t some rotten movies that did well at the box office, such as one of the worst, SCARY MOVIE, but the vast majority of these movies under perform, and more and more the audience seems to be turning toward better product even with the excessive number of bad movies being released.

Of course, part of the reason for any of these movies performing well at the box office is the fact that there are several movie-going audiences: the teenagers who are attracted to the forbidden fruit, families who want redemptive movies, maturing adults who may want to settle down and become family men and women, and many other demographic groups, including the growing Hispanic audience.

The Rules of Evidence

Further good news in 2000 was the fact that four major medical associations finally concluded that violence in entertainment influenced children to become more aggressive and the Federal Trade Commission found that the entertainment industry was marketing violent movies, music and games to children. Therefore, parents have no excuse for not teaching their children to be media-wise.

In a joint statement, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry warned that violence in horror movies, video games, TV, and rap music is contributing to increasing violent behavior among children. “The conclusion of the public health community,” the statement reads, “based on over 30 years of research, is that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children.”

When violence is glorified or at least given a glossy, glitzy treatment, it becomes more palatable to those who would be influenced by it. When more and more see ugliness and violence on the big screen, done well with the best Hollywood talent behind it, it is no wonder that actual violence results.

The Video Market

The home video market made about $20 billion in 2000, which was nearly triple that of the theatrical box office. This was a significant increase of 29 percent compared to 1999. Fueling this large increase was a “staggering” 269 percent increase in DVD sales and rentals, which earned $4.03 billion in 2000 compared to only $1.5 billion in 1999.

Also, each of Buena Vista/Disney’s top three titles, TARZAN, TOY STORY 2 and THE SIXTH SENSE earned more than $200 million on VHS and DVD. Buena Vista/Disney’s great success in the home video market left all the other major movie studios in Hollywood in the dust. Rental fees in 2000 accounted for a record $8.25 billion, more than was spent on domestic movie theater tickets!

In the home video area: 90 percent of the Top 10 titles had at least some moral, Christian and/or redemptive elements playing some kind of major role in the premise of the movie; 60 percent were rated G or PG; 70 percent of the Top 10 were marketed to families, children or teenagers; 50 percent received MOVIEGUIDE® Awards last year for Ten Best Family Films or Ten Best Films for Mature Audiences; 20 percent of the titles have been nominated for MOVIEGUIDE® Awards this year; and, 60 percent were deemed acceptable with caution by MOVIEGUIDE®, while 20 percent were deemed acceptable for adults, with caution.

(This report will continue in Part two next month)


Read Part 2


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