Note: It is not my intent to offend or anger anyone with this post. If you are offended or angered, I’m sorry. Let me know by commenting, and we can talk about it. Thank you.
Before you read this post, click Here to have a full understanding of why I’m saying what I’m saying. (It’s a link to my first — and only other — post on Woodlawn.) In a reply to a comment on that post, I say this:
“If I see Woodlawn for myself and I like it, or if the majority of audience members and critics like it (if it gets a ‘Fresh’ rating on http://www.rottentomatoes.com), than I will gladly take back every negative thing I said about the movie.”
I can no longer, in good conscience, “take back every negative thing I said about the movie,” for a reason that I will explain in this post.
As of October 25th, 2015, Woodlawn has gotten positive reviews from the majority of critics and audience members.
And as of October 25th, 2015, Woodlawn has earned just under $8 million dollars.
Critically, Woodlawn was a success. I’m happy about this. I’m glad that movies with an overt Christian worldview are being made better and are, thus, being received better.
But, in terms of box office gross, Woodlawn bombed. The movie was released on October 16th. It was made and marketed for $25 million, and so far has made just under $8 million. Unless there is a surge in ticket sales, Woodlawn won’t break even, and won’t be the $100 million blockbuster that its creators want it to be.
Watch 11:11 — 11:29:
There is a part of me that is sad that Woodlawn bombed. I haven’t seen the movie, but the majority of people who have seen it have liked it. I’m glad that people have liked Woodlawn. No one likes walking out of a movie thinking it was a waste of time and money.
But there is also a part of me that is glad Woodlawn bombed. Here is why:
Ever since the success of the TV series The Bible, and the success of the movie Son of God, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have been the go-to people to produce movies with explicitly Christian worldviews.* It’s like filmmakers are thinking to themselves “If we get Mark Burnett and Roma Downey onboard, we’re golden!” I’m glad that Woodlawn‘s box office numbers show that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey don’t guarantee success: That there is, in fact, no go-to person or group of people who will insure that a movie is profitable.
Pure Flix is the studio that produced Woodlawn. Similar to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the Christian movie studio Pure Flix is, to many, the studio that can do no wrong. Relatively unknown until God’s Not Dead, Pure Flix follow-up movies — Do You Believe?, Faith of Our Fathers, and now Woodlawn — have shown that the reason for the success of God’s Not Dead was that movie’s Us vs. Them worldview.
I’m glad that Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and Pure Flix, were not enough to ensure that Woodlawn was a success at the box office. (Which is what they were brought onboard to do.) I’m glad because I want Woodlawn‘s box office numbers to be a lesson for the makers of Woodlawn, and the makers of “Christian movies” in general: The lesson being that there is no way to guarantee a movie’s box office success — there is no magic potion, formula, or silver bullet.
And the reason I can’t “take back every negative thing I said about the movie,” is the following:
Woodlawn is built on a lie. Let me explain: In the “Woodlawn Keynote” video at the top of this post, Jon Erwin, one of the directors, makes it clear that he wants Woodlawn to be more than just a fun time at the movies: He wants Woodlawn to lead to a spiritual revival that will change America. I have no problem with that goal. What I have a problem with is how that goal is achieved: By lying. How? This is how: For a movie that is about the “undeniable true story” of what happened at Woodlawn in 1973, the filmmakers had no qualms with making changes to that story.
Then watch this:
My point is this:
The filmmakers made up that scene where the chaplain is talking to the crowd while they hold candles. That scene is based off of an event that former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee went to when he was younger. Such a move by the filmmakers, for me, turns Woodlawn from art to propaganda.
“Propaganda” is a strong word to describe Woodlawn, but here is why I think it is accurate:
The definition of the word “Propaganda” is: “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.”
That scene in Woodlawn, with the chaplain and the candles, is in the movie for no other reason than to “…promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” In this case, the “…cause or point of view…” is the Jesus Movement.
The heart of Woodlawn — the scene with the chaplain and the candles — a movie that is supposed to be the catalyst for a new spiritual revival in America, is based off of a lie: America’s new spiritual revival is based off of an event, in a true story, that did not, in fact, happen.
That just seems wrong to me.
That is why a part of me is glad that Woodlawn bombed.
*The other movie they were producers for being Little Boy.