Fox launches movie unit aimed at Christian community

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Twentieth Century Fox has launched a movie distribution label targeting the Christian community, with the goal of releasing at least six "faith-based" and "inspiration" theatrical films a year — including two this fall.

The label, "Fox Faith," will house both DVD and theatrical "faith-based" films that have a "clear Christian message" or are based on "material by a Christian author," according to a news release. Fox Faith also will market the movies to churches and ministry organizations.

The first theatrical release, "Love's Abiding Joy" — based on the books by Janette Oke — will be released Oct. 6 in partnership with The Bigger Picture on a limited basis, in more than 75 cities and 250 screens. The second movie in theaters, "One Night with the King" — based on the story of the biblical Esther — will hit theaters Oct. 13. Both are rated PG.

"We simply recognized that there was a hugely underserved audience and seized the opportunity to provide them with high-quality entertainment that reflects their values," Jeff Yordy, vice president for marketing at Fox Faith, said in a news release. "And, as a result, we've seen explosive growth in this marketplace over the past few years, which only proves to us that we're successfully tapping into our core constituency."

Fox Faith movies on DVD will include such titles as "The Passion of The Christ," "Woman Thou Art Loosed" and "Beyond the Gates of Splendor."

The theatrical releases will have small budgets of approximately $5 million each, as well as marketing campaigns of approximately $5 million each, according to the Los Angeles Times. Movies typically cost tens of millions of dollars to make. "Superman Returns" cost approximately $270 million.

Still, $5 million could be a significant budget for some films. The football-themed inspirational "Facing the Giants," for instance, set to be released Sept. 29, had a budget of approximately $100,000.

Simon Swart, general manager of Fox's U.S. home entertainment line, told the Times that Fox Faith wants to "push the production value," although they don't want to "videotape sermons."

The theatrical releases will cover approximately 40 percent of the country in such chains as Carmike and AMC, according to the news release. Fox Faith already has three films slated for next year: "Three" (January), "The Last Sin Eater" (February) and "Mama, I Want to Sing" (March).

"We work very closely with the Christian retail community as well as a variety of church and thought leaders across the country and they have fully embraced what we're doing with Fox Faith and the banner has truly come to represent relevant and compelling programming that our consumers and retailers know they can trust," Yordy said.

For more information, visit www.foxfaithmovies.com or www.foxfaith.com.