Wholesome Movies, Smart Money: The Outstanding Success of Morally Uplifting and Family-Friendly Movies Proves That the Public Wants Good Films and Is Rewarding Those Who Make Them

By Jasper, William F. | The New American, March 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

Wholesome Movies, Smart Money: The Outstanding Success of Morally Uplifting and Family-Friendly Movies Proves That the Public Wants Good Films and Is Rewarding Those Who Make Them


Jasper, William F., The New American


"Sex sells." Who would dare question the unassailable authority of that commonly uttered marketing truism? After all, the Madison Avenue pros routinely harness the carnal impulses to sell products having absolutely nothing to do with sex. And when was the last time you saw a movie trailer that didn't rely on lust for at least part of the sell?

Why? Why is there such a heavy, relentless emphasis on prurient sex by Hollywood? Is that what the public demands? Will movies flop and audiences stay away unless films attain what has become, seemingly, an obligatory threshold of raunchiness?

The box office returns of recent years refute such claims that too often pass for common "wisdom." In fact, a close look at Hollywood's bottom line shows that producing wholesome films is not only morally sound but financially rewarding. The outstanding success of blockbusters like the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy and Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ is not a fluke. A recent study of the box office statistics of the top 250 movies released by Hollywood shows that moviegoers not only are flocking to G- and PG-rated movies, they also want movies with strong moral messages.

The study, sponsored by the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry (CFTVC), analyzed the content and box office averages of more than 750 movies in 2004, 2003, and 2002. "Movies with strong moral messages, whether they were rated G, PG, PG-13, or R, consistently earn four to seven times as much money on average as movies with immoral messages, according to our biblical standards," said Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman and founder of the commission.

According to the study, movies released in 2004 like The Incredibles, Spider-Man 2, The Polar Express, Shark Tale, The Passion of The Christ, Miracle, and A Cinderella Story, which contained very strong moral content, "earned nearly $106.7 million on average, more than six times as much money as movies with very strong immoral, negative content or very strong pagan, secular humanist, socialist, homosexual, occult, or anti-religious content, which averaged only $16.4 million per movie in 2004."

The figures for movies in 2003 and 2002 echo this positive trend, Dr. Baehr said. The study, which was released on February 24, two days before the Academy Awards, was intended to send a message to Hollywood that it's good business to make morally uplifting movies.

"The numbers don't lie," Baehr said. "Not only are families beginning to attend movies again, but they are leaving the theaters with a wonderful moral experience. For Hollywood, biblical morals in movies mean more money at the box office."

Furthermore, CFTVC's annual study of the Top 10 Movies at the domestic box office in 2004, 2003, and 2002 also shows that moviegoers are seeking out family-oriented movies with traditional moral values.

For example, 96 percent of the Top 10 Movies during those years had at least some moral content in them. …

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