We survived the opening of the movie "2012," which was last weekend's top-grossing film. (See it now before the world actually ends, as is predicted on a faux- newsy movie related web site). Meanwhile, apocalyptic themes will make another appearance at the Cineplex the day before Thanksgiving with "The Road," a film based on Cormac McCarthy's unrelentingly bleak novel about a father and son who struggle for survival in a barren world following a cataclysmic event that is never described (and never connected to any particular faith tradition).
Now Entertainment Weekly writer Adam B. Vary reports that the veteran Christian p.r. company A. Larry Ross Communications will try to help fill theater seats by marketing the film to believers. Vary is surprised at the partnership, as he writes in a solid, snark-free article (that is curiously unavailable on the ew.com web site):
When picturing the ideal film to market to Christian filmgoers, The Passion of the Christ is a no-brainer. Even a silly family comedy with clear biblical overtones like Evan Almighty makes sense. But the grim, R-rated postapocalyptic drama The Road?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will need all the help it can get:
Shot through with a bleak intensity and pessimism that offers little hope for a better tomorrow, the film is more suitable to critical appreciation than to attracting huge audiences though topliners Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron will attract initial business.
Ross has worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association since the early 1980s, so he should know a lot about forgiveness. That's good, because Ross earlier promoted the "Left Behind" movie, which is perhaps (and this is saying something!) one of the worst Christian films in history.
But will Christians forgive Ross for promoting "The Road," which features hunger, cannibals, criminals, killings and (spoiler alert!) the death of one of its main characters? After all, Christian versions of the End Times typically include a hint of redemption—at least for the redeemed, if not for sinners. Such hope is nowhere to be found in "The Road."
Ross is promoting the film via Twitter and his Facebook site but not his corporate web site (which does list the company's work promoting other films, including "Prince of Egypt," "Jonah: a VeggieTale Movie" and "The Passion of the Christ."
CORRECTION: Ross's site DOES feature their work on the film (see comment).
The promotional partnership has been virtually ignored by both the mainstream and Christian press (one notable exception being is a story published by The Christian Post).
Ross, who will hold advance screenings for Christian leaders, told Entertainment Weekly that he hopes pastors will refer to the film in their sermons. If so, will pastors read a statement to their congregations saying: "This seemingly gratuitous reference was made in exchange for free tickets and other promotional considerations provided by the makers of 'The Road?'"