Hey, 'The Blind Side' may lift off

The little movie that could, otherwise known at "The Blind Side," is starting to cause some tremors out on the left coast.

In fact, if you read between the lines in the box office numbers it seems that some people think that John Lee Hancock's movie about family, football, faith and a very feisty good Samaritan may even catch "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" and take over the No. 1 slot this coming weekend.

To make a long story short, the vampires are fading and "The Blind Spot" is still in a gradual, solid, ascent. In other words, this has become a news story.

A few hours after my GetReligion post on this topic, I received an email from the Los Angeles Times seeking input on a story about the movie. I ended up being interviewed.

So, this is essentially a mainstream news report -- in LA, which is important -- about the small-town, heartland hit phenomenon, as you can see in the double-decker headline:

'The Blind Side' writes a new playbook

Unlike most other blockbusters, a small-town blitz has driven it to box-office success.

And here's the top of the report by John Horn and Ben Fritz:

Hollywood blockbusters aren't usually born in movie theaters in Dallas, Birmingham or Nashville. But that's exactly where "The Blind Side" has taken off -- a show-business phenomenon driven by audiences in the South and Midwest storming to a movie about Christian charity and football that stars Sandra Bullock.

In one of the more extraordinary box-office stories of the year, writer-director John Lee Hancock’s movie about Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher -- who as a homeless black teen was taken in and nurtured by a well-off, churchgoing white couple -- nearly toppled the smash sequel "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" at multiplexes in both films' second weekend of release. Its ticket sales grew by 18% -- the first time this year that a movie in wide release saw its domestic gross grow on its second weekend -- while those for the teen vampire drama plummeted by 70%. ...

Runaway hits usually generate their highest grosses in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, but "The Blind Side" is performing exceptionally well miles from those urban hubs: The film's five highest-grossing theaters this weekend were in Sacramento, Dallas, Birmingham, Ala. and Nashville.

I have heard from people who thought, in my Scripps Howard column and here at GetReligion, that I was arguing that "The Blind Side" is, in fact, a story because it is a "Christian movie," whatever that means to the person adding the quotation marks.

That's the precise opposite of what I was saying, of course. Thus, I was thankful that the Times crew let me say my piece (although I don't think I'm a lofty enough guy to toss "didactic" around in this context):

Terry Mattingly, a religion columnist for Scripps Howard News Service and the director of the Christian-oriented Washington Journalism Center, believes that "The Blind Side" is working with audiences because the film's Christian back story is neither gratuitous nor didactic.

"What makes a movie like this important to me is that it doesn't slap people in the face with religion," Mattingly said. "Most films from Hollywood that involve faith take out all the details -- it's just vague and mushy or it's negative religious stereotypes. But 'The Blind Side' is a real movie. And then it has another factor: showing respect for religious motivations and emotions."

I also stressed that this was a "real film," not a tiny cheep Christian niche-market product. It has a real director/writer, who just happens to be a Christian. It has a major star, who went into the project with her eyes wide open about the challenge of playing a conservative, evangelical, Southern woman who is radically different than herself. Bravo. It looks like Bullock may end up with an Oscar nomination for her trouble.

And the Times did talk to the real woman at the center of the storm, which would be Leigh Anne Tuohy. Here's her take:

... (At) a time when so many people are struggling, Tuohy added, the movie tells people that putting faith into action has never been more important.

"There are a lot of people in this country who do nice things for others," she said. "If you love the Lord, you do what you need to do. Talk is cheap."

Stay tuned. Watch the box office.

Please respect our Commenting Policy