A major studio division is now setting up online shop for Christian consumers.
Fox Home Entertainment recently launched www.foxfaith.com, a Web site promoting Twentieth Century Fox films with Christian and/or family themes. Offerings include old biblical epics like “The Robe,” animation like “The Roach Approach,” and the blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ.”
Currently about three dozen films are included on the site, which operates using the tagline, “Family and Christian films everyone can enjoy!” Most of the films are “family approved” by the Dove Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting wholesome entertainment.
“I think the main goal of the site is to offer a place where a parent or church leader can find can find faith based or family friendly entertainment without having to navigate through films that may otherwise be offensive to them,” said Elliott Wallach, president of Edify Media, which handles Christian publicity for Fox. “We also hope that through our church resource section it serves as a regular ministry tools for pastors to use cinema as another way to get out their message.”
According to Network Solutions, the foxfaith.com Web address was registered March 3, 2004. That was the weekend after “The Passion of the Christ” scored more than $125 million at the U.S. box office.
“It wouldn’t be fair to say that Fox’s interest in this marketplace was initiated by the success of ‘The Passion,'” said Wallach. “Fox has seen this market as underserved and had taken steps to acquire product even prior to the phenomenal success of ‘The Passion of the Christ.'”
Fox is thus pulling films from its own vault to market via the site, as well as actively pursuing other projects that might fit the bill. Fox Home Video is already scheduled to handle “End of the Spear,” slated for a summer 2006 home release after it appears in theaters nationwide in January.
“End of the Spear” is a dramatic feature adaptation of the famous story of five missionaries who were killed by tribesmen in the Ecuadorian jungle.
Visitors to foxfaith.com can look at all titles in the collection, or browse by “Christian based,” “family” or “kids.” There’s also a “church resources” tab, where visitors can watch clips from and download PDF study guides for selected films.
“The discussion guides we’ve created for churches have already had a strong response,” said Wallach. “The church resources section of foxfaith.com is just another way we’ve made them more available.”
All but two of the films at foxfaith.com—”The Passion of the Christ” and “Woman Thou Art Loosed”—carry the Dove Foundation’s seal of approval.
“Fox Home Entertainment was looking for an organization, an imprimatur seal, to identify the films they carry that are either faith-based or value-based,” Dick Rolfe, chairman of the Dove Foundation, told EthicsDaily.com.
Rolfe said the relationship between Dove and Fox really began with the release of “Because of Winn-Dixie” earlier this year. Dove approved the movie, whose better-than-anticipated performance at the box office Fox partially credited to the Dove seal, according to Rolfe.
The relationship developed from there.
“We’ve found the Dove Foundation’s seal as one of the most trusted symbols of wholesome family entertainment out there,” said Wallach. “As such, when we get their endorsement we use it and incorporate it into our marketing and packaging. There isn’t a partnership as much as a common goal, to bring more wholesome family entertainment to the market.”
Rolfe stressed that Dove holds no financial relationship with Fox. Dove charges a $25 fee to review any movie, but there is no charge for application of the seal once granted by the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based foundation.
Fox, then, by soliciting and promoting its Dove-approved films, is taking advantage of a process open to any other studio or production company.
“We do get titles from other studios that they submit to us for the Dove seal, for their DVD home video selections, and they send us usually titles they are reasonably certain are going to be approved,” said Rolfe.
“The one thing that the Dove seal does is it gives people some certainty that the movie they’re watching has been reviewed by a third party with no interest in the financial outcome,” he added.
Other films promoted at foxfaith.com include the musicals “Oklahoma!” and “The Sound of Music,” as well as “Strawberry Shortcake” and “Cheaper by the Dozen.”
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.