Will Churchgoers Turn Out For Evan Almighty?
For the first time since Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, a distributor will be courting the church-going audience with the release of Universal's $200-million Evan Almighty -- reportedly the most costly comedy ever made -- this weekend. Today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times observed that in recent years, studios have avoided making films with content aimed at the faithful. (Gibson's Passion was self-financed; Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia played down the religious themes, although the studio heavily marketed the film to churchgoers.) However, the Times observed, "If Evan Almighty turns into a summer hit, as several competing studio executives predict, the movie could put Hollywood back in the business of making big-budget movies that intentionally embrace sacred subjects." According to the newspaper, Universal has partnered with Grace Hill Media, the marketing firm that several studios are using to bring the film to the attention of the country's estimated 200,000 churches. It has conservatively estimated that the movie will earn $40 million on opening weekend.