The Shack – The Highest Grossing Christian Film To Give Away Free Resources?

shackThis weekend, the controversial faith-based film The Shack crossed the $30,000,000 box office mark. This put the film in fifteenth place in the Box Office Mojo list of highest grossing films marketed to the Christian audience (or as they say, “Movies produced by Christians that promote or embody their religion.“)

Considering that the movie has only been out for two weekends, it will undoubtedly climb higher on the list before all is said and done, and could potentially crack the top ten.

The film’s release renewed heated debate about The Shack, which was a controversial best selling book years before it was adapted for the silver screen. Calls of heresy and blasphemy from respected church leaders have kept many people from supporting this film, a decision that other respected church leaders see as a missed opportunity to share the Christian faith, if a believing movie-goer has the right tools at his or her disposal.

To help solve this problem, and possibly to answer some of the concerns of the detractors, the makers of The Shack put together an impressive, biblically-based discussion guide, as well as other materials, all available on http://theshackresources.com for free.

When I saw that The Shack had cracked the top 15 highest grossing Christian-made films, it made me wonder how the other films on the list handled their ministry resources in a similar way. To help answer this question, I did a simple search for each of the top 15 movies [“The name of the movie movie resources”] and looked for the official resource page provided by the filmmakers or studios. While most of these films have ministry-related products that are sold through Lifeway or Outreach (including The Shack), I was specifically looking at which high grossing films made it a point to give resources for free, for ministry’s sake.

The results of my research were mixed.

15. The ShackResources are free, including hard copies of discussion guides and resource DVDs.

14. FireproofResources are not free.

13. CourageousResources are not free.

12. RisenCombination of free and not free resources, the free resources include a downloadable 14 page conversation starter and a link to a free Bible study plan.

11. The Nativity Story – The film is from 2006, and I was unable to find any working links for resources, free or otherwise.

10. Soul Surfer – No resources available on film website, free or otherwise.

9. Son of GodResources are not free.

8. God’s Not DeadResources are not free.

7. Miracles from HeavenCombination of free and not free resources, the free resource is a downloadable sixteen page discussion guide, no Scripture references.

6. War RoomA whole bunch of resources, more than I’ve seen from any of the other movies, but none of them are free.

5. Heaven Is For RealThe website has a free ten page discussion guide, with Scripture refrences.

4. The Voyage of the Dawn TreaderA free education guide, but no ministry resources.

3. Prince Caspian – A free education guide, but no ministry resources.

2. The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe – A free education guide, but no ministry resources.

1. The Passion of the Christ – The film that started it all, from 2004. I was unable to find an official website for the film, so no resources.

While it saddens me that all of the top grossing Christian films don’t give away ministry resources,  I am heartened by the films that do. Also, I should point out that Affirm Films (the faith-based division of Sony) makes free discussion guides available for the movies they release, many of which are on the list above. You can see those study guides by going to the Affirm Films website.

However, I would encourage Christian filmmakers and producers – especially of films that make impressive profit – to use some of that profit to create tools that people can freely use to share the Gospel, and not just create ministry tools to increase the profit even more.

Thimblerig out.

[update: after the second weekend, The Shack has crossed $42M, making it number 11 on the list just behind The Nativity Story. It’ll push Soul Surfer out of the top ten very soon.]

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3 thoughts on “The Shack – The Highest Grossing Christian Film To Give Away Free Resources?

  1. Hi! Can you write an article explaining how Slamma Jamma, a RiverRain production, made 1.7 million at the box office on the first weekend? And they have 50 times as many followers on Twitter, and double as many on Facebook, as The Case for Christ! I simply don’t get it.

  2. As someone who works for a faith based film company, I can say that we couldn’t continue to make faith-based films if we didn’t receive revenue somehow. The large majority of faith-based films never recoup their investment and therefore go into debt. For every success like the Shack, there are a few hundred that end up forgotten in the lowest ranks of IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.
    But don’t get me wrong – the entire film industry is like this. The faith-based world is no worse off. Making money in the movie business is like playing the lottery – you’re going to lose more often than you’re going to win!

    • Hi Denise,

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with film companies earning revenue. And my beef isn’t with those folks trying to make the next The Shack. My issue is with those folks who have made the big banking films, and still charge for ministry resources.

      For example, the Kendrick Brothers (who I’ve heard are the “real deal” from many different people) have made several movies that have made insane profits. And they can’t have free ministry resources to go along with their films? I used to feel this way about Pureflix, too, but they seem to have started coming around, giving away basic resources to their films, which I applaud. I think they could go farther, but that’s their business.

      I’d invite you to read another post I wrote about this a while back.

      https://thimblerigsark.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/how-george-lucas-helped-shape-the-christian-film-industry/

      Thanks for the comment! Glad to have you on Thimblerig’s Ark!

      Cheers,
      Nate

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