Demonstrating once again that invoking the sacred phrase "Passion of the Christ money"
will help even the most committed of Hollywood heathens find God faster than a persecuted heiress marching towards her maximum-security Calvary Hill, Universal is contracting some Real Live Christians to help them sell Even Almighty, The Most Expensive Comedy Story Ever Told, to the "religious" audience. The LAT reports on how the studio plans to get arm-deep into America's church collection boxes:
To build interest in "Evan Almighty" among religious audiences, the studio partnered with Grace Hill Media, a local publicity and marketing firm formed to assist Hollywood studios bridge the religious divide with the country's estimated 200,000 churches and millions of worshipers.
Grace Hill's Jonathan Bock came up with the idea of Ark Almighty.com, a website that houses craigslist-like message boards for 8,000 churches. It matches local needs with church resources, such as house painting and assisting the homeless. Grace Hill also set up screenings for religious organizations and distributed marketing and educational materials, including videos and movie-themed curriculum.
David Welch, whose Youth Specialties in San Diego provides training and educational material for youth ministries, attended a Universal screening in April to see if "Evan Almighty's" tone was appropriate for his group. "Some of us had raised eyebrows because 'Bruce Almighty' had parts people found objectionable, mostly vulgarity," Welch says. But he liked the sequel more than the original.
"Critical to us, because we work with youth, is the theme of: 'What do you do when you feel called on by God, like Noah, but your family thinks you're nuts?' " Welch says. "If a kid has a calling or a mission from God, we want them to know they're not nuts."
Once Evan Almighty pumps-and-dumps its Christian audience following its opening weekend and Universal shovels the money back into its Satanic moviemaking forge, we hope those faith-based marketers stick around to support all the kids who've taken the movie's "You're not nuts, you're one of God's special little helpers" message too literally. Someone will need to let them know that there are less crazy-seeming ways to answer the call they heard in the dark of the multiplex than flooding all the sinks in their homes and escaping with the family pets, just like Morgan Freeman told them to.