Family filmmakers envision 2022 as “the year of Hollywood alternatives”

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Soon in a (home) theater near you: family rate financed by crowdfunding.

This is the message of filmmakers specializing in Christian and conservative themes and stories. They say 2022 will be “the year of Hollywood alternatives” for a streaming audience they estimate at 52 million.

“It’s an exciting time because COVID has revolutionized the entire media industry,” said Neal Harmon, co-founder and CEO of Angel Studios, which distributes independent, crowdfunded productions such as the Life of series. Christ “The Chosen” and the free market children’s fantasy animation “Tuttle Twins”.

Based in Provo, Utah, Angel Studios reports that it will make at least $ 168 million in net income in 2022 after making $ 100 million last year.

“Angel’s real success is pride in owning it. When people can own something and really make it their own, it’s a game-changer, ”said Harmon.

Kirk Cameron, the former star of the sitcom “Growing Pains” who now produces and stars in Christian-themed entertainment, said the wave of crowdfunded entertainment is serving a segment of the audience that mainstream Hollywood ignores.

“People understand that entertainment is not just entertainment, but one of the channels through which hearts and minds are changed,” said Mr. Cameron, whose Christian actor credits include “Fireproof” from 2008 and “Extraordinary” from 2017.

The “family-friendly and faith-friendly” audience who fund crowdfunding projects want to “influence the world through the value of these programs,” not just providing entertainment, he said. “They want a ‘Frozen’, a ‘Mulan’, a Netflix that builds the kind of future with the values ​​and feelings they want for their children’s world.”

Such alternative programming almost requires alternative funding.

Gigafund, the venture capital firm that backed Elon Musk SpaceX recently invested nearly $ 50 million in Angel Studios to develop new programming.

The company distributes its free content through an app that solicits donations in advance. It is rising as entertainment reports suggest Americans have moved away from theaters and turned to home streaming content that more closely reflects their worldview.

After surpassing $ 11 billion a year for most of the decade before the pandemic, box office receipts at U.S. theaters fell in 2020, to $ 2.2 billion.

That figure, the lowest in 40 years, rebounded to $ 4.4 billion in 2021 as theaters began to reopen, but many observers say the pre-COVID-19 business model is dead.

In a world where the latest resurgent variant keeps millions of customers at home, Hollywood has realized that it can release big-budget movies on streaming platforms and in theaters simultaneously.

With more viewing options than ever before, American families are more selective about what entertainment is shown in their living room.

The Harris poll found in August that 40% of Americans said they would be willing to invest in entertainment ventures they believe in.

The poll found that 62% of Americans wanted to see more family-friendly or inspiring and uplifting entertainment options than those offered by Hollywood, and 20% wanted to see more faith-based content.

Some family productions managed to perform well even in theaters last year.

Mr Harmon said that Fathom Events’ theatrical release of “Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers,” a 30-minute episode of the streaming series accompanied by an 80-minute musical concert last month, generated 15 million dollars in ticket sales on 1,700 screens on a budget of $ 2 million.

“‘Spider-Man’ and ‘The Chosen’ are probably the only two franchises that have recouped what they invested in theatrical releases [last] year, ”said Harmon.

Tim Winter, chairman of the Parents Television and Media Council, said COVID-19 has changed the entertainment distribution model to be more user-friendly for publicly funded projects.

“You now have alternatives where there were obstacles,” said Winter. “Today, all you need is inexpensive digital film production equipment and a good Internet connection to produce a series or film. “

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace said crowdfunding-funded projects have harnessed music, movies and TV entertainment as the next front in culture wars.

“Jesus used stories,” Mr. Deace said. “And now, at last, we see those of us who believe in the greatest story ever to be told step into the world of storytelling to reach a culture that is on the brink of collapse.”

Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman’s writing-directing team, whose credits include the 2019 abortion biopic “Unplanned,” agreed.

“If conservatives and believers want to see their values ​​presented and preserved, then we must develop our own alternative system of production and distribution, or lose the crop war for good,” they wrote in an email.


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