Why I Hope “Ben-Hur” Bombs

“I would encourage people – anytime Hollywood makes an effort and they’re sincere, we should support that, because how else are we going to get what we need if we don’t give a reward when somebody delivers? Faith driven consumers need to make an effort to say, ‘Hey, this is what I want.’ they need to advocate for themselves and join with us in advocating for the faith-based community.”
~ Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer

“Is this brand of evangelical pablum — full of piety and pageantry, but largely devoid of artistic merit or spiritual insight — what the Christian audience wants from its screen entertainment? To even pose that question is to fall into the trap that so many Hollywood decision makers have since the smash success of ‘The Passion of the Christ’ 12 years ago: They effectively niche-ified ‘the Christian audience,’ turning it into some sort of distant, monolithic entity that could, if properly courted, deliver an embarrassment of box-office riches. In the eyes of the industry, Christian moviegoers are little more than like-minded robots with a more God-fearing set of aesthetic taste buds than everyone else, and who routinely shun serious, provocative art but will embrace a movie that ends with a worship song and an altar call.”
~ Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Why I hope Ben-Hur (2016) bombs:

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

Ever since they made the History Channel series The Bible (2013), Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have been the go-to people in the Christian film industry:

Every filmmaker, I think it’s safe to say, wants their film to makes its money back.

To me, with the hiring of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the filmmakers are making their desire clear: Please give me your money. The thinking being: Hey, that Bible series was one of the most popular series ever. And it was made by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. If we get them on our team, we’re golden.

To me, the hiring of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey proves that these films (Little Boy, Woodlawn, Heaven Is For Real, and Ben-Hur) are businesses first and art second.

If you want to know what Jesus thinks about people using God to make a profit, read Matthew 21:12 — 13.

I want Ben-Hur to bomb to show Christian filmmakers that there is more to making a good film than having recognizable names promote it.

One more thing:

Christians: If you want to make films that change the world, than take a page out of Miyazaki’s playbook:

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4 thoughts on “Why I Hope “Ben-Hur” Bombs

  1. Sounds like you’ve already passed judgment on Ben-Hur without even having seen the film, and you believe for some odd reason that if it doesn’t bomb it’s only because Burnett and Downey were involved. I am having a hard time following your argument, but you’re bias is certainly crystal clear. Hey, so why couldn’t Ben-Hur be a success due to it’s actually GOOD? Ever thought of that?

    1. “Sounds like you’ve already passed judgment on Ben-Hur without even having seen the film…”

      This blog post is not my review of the film. My review of the film — my “judgement” of the film — will come later.

      “…you believe for some odd reason that if it doesn’t bomb it’s only because Burnett and Downey were involved.”

      Where do I say that in this blog post?

      The reason I ask is: It sounds like you’re putting words in my mouth.

      “Ever thought of that?”

      I have.

      Ben-Hur could be a very good movie. And I hope that everyone who sees it thinks it is: No one likes walking out of a theater thinking they waster their time. But, nothing I’ve seen of the film makes me think it’ll be good. Judging from the previews: It won’t be the worst thing I’ve ever seen — that would The Garbage Pail Kids — but it’ll be nothing mind-blowing either.

    2. Reading through your comment again, I think I found what you were talking about when you said:

      “…you believe for some odd reason that if it doesn’t bomb it’s only because Burnett and Downey were involved.”

      You were talking about this, I think:

      “I want Ben-Hur to bomb to show Christian filmmakers that there is more to making a good film than having recognizable names promote it.”

      If there was ever a good reason to hope a movie would bomb, I think it would be this:

      So that the filmmakers will be more aware of what it takes to make, and try harder to make, a good film.

      You’re right: I don’t know how much the filmmakers are depending on Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. But, I know the filmmakers are depending on them in some way. And when it comes to making a film, I want a film to succeed not because of the talent behind it — because people threw their money at the screen because they saw that people they like made it — but because it was just a good film.

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