LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) -- For fans of faith-based films, this fall could be a banner time to visit the theater.
With Hillsong: Let Hope Rise leading the way Sept. 16, no fewer than eight films marketed toward Christian audiences will hit the box office by the end of the year. While some of them cannot be considered kid-friendly, all of them contain strong faith or moral elements that set them apart from more mainstream films.
Hillsong – distributed by PureFlix -- follows the incredible rise in popularity of the Australian band Hillsong United, whose songs are sung in churches throughout the United States and the world.
Some of the bands more popular songs include "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" and "Touch The Sky." Hillsong United has sold more than 17 million albums.
"Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is so much more than a film about a Christian band or even a church. It is truly a theatrical worship experience," said Michael Scott of PureFlix. "It is a dream come true for us, as a studio committed to influencing the global culture, to partner with a church like Hillsong."
Jonathan Bock, the movie's producer, said "anyone who regularly attends a church knows Hillsong's music by heart."
More than 50 million people sing Hillsong's music each Sunday, according to studio data.
"That's how influential they've become," Bock said. "And yet despite the fame and adulation, they're still just a humble worship band trying to do what tens of thousands of other worship bands try to do every week — glorify God through their music. How they balance that is a fascinating and surprising story."
Other movies marketed to Christian audiences this fall include:
To Joey, With Love (Sept. 20) – This documentary follows the emotion-laden true story of Joey+Rory, a husband-and-wife singing duo that chose to simplify their life and set aside their music careers in preparation for the birth of their first child. They documented their journey on video – and in the midst of it, Joey (the wife and mom) — was diagnosed with cancer. She died March 4 of this year. The documentary will be in theaters for one night only.
Vanished: Left Behind – Next Generation (Sept. 28) – Labeled as a "fresh" and "new" approach to the popular End Times series, Vanished is geared toward teens and young adults and is produced by Randy LaHaye, the grandson of the late Left Behind co-author Tim LaHaye. The movie has been called reminiscent of Twilight, The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games. It is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some violence/peril. It will be showed in theaters for one night only.
Voiceless (Oct. 7) – Inspired by true events, this pro-life movie follows a war veteran as he takes a position at a Philadelphia church and then discovers there is an abortion clinic across the street. He wants to make a difference in the lives of the women at the clinic, but the congregation – his employer – is divided on the issue. It is rated PG-13 for thematic material and some violence.
Priceless(Oct. 14) – When a man named James becomes desperate for a job and some cash, he agrees to drive a truck across the country – no questions asked. But when he learns what he is carrying – people being trafficked — he is faced with life-changing decisions. Joel and Luke Smallbone, the brothers in the band For King and Country, are behind the film. It is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving human trafficking, and some violence.
I'm Not Ashamed (Oct. 21) – Seventeen years after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, this new film tells the story of Rachel Scott, who was killed that day and who refused to deny God in her final seconds. Most of the movie follows Scott as she impacts others for Christ during her high school years leading up to that tragic day. It is rated PG-13 for thematic material, teen drinking and smoking, disturbing violent content and some suggestive situations.
New Life (Oct. 28) – Starring Fireproof star Erin Bethea, this romance tells the story of a boy and a girl who meet as kids, fall in love as teenagers, and then are married as adults. But when tragedy hits, their future is in doubt. This film is not yet rated.
Hacksaw Ridge (Nov. 4) – Directed by Mel Gibson, this biographical war film follows a U.S. Army medic during World War II who was a Seventh-day Adventist conscientious objector and refused to carry firearms into battle. It is not yet rated.