Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' Marketing Targets Church Groups

A still from Dinesh D'Souza's "America"
A still from Dinesh D'Souza's "America"
 

Dinesh D’Souza is pitching his upcoming film, America, to churches nationwide.

In America, the conservative author and filmmaker answers critics on the left who challenge the country’s record regarding equality, war, immigration, capitalism and more. While largely political in nature, the movie also touches on Christianity, and that’s the message D’Souza is hoping to spread to churches.

D’Souza -- along with Oscar-winning producer Gerald Molen and others involved with America -- engaged Christian marketing firms Outreach and Sermon Central and writer Phil Hopersberger to create a sermon based on the movie, complete with video clips. About 1,000 preachers have downloaded the sermon thus far and insiders expect that number to swell to 5,000 by the time Lionsgate opens America on July 2. 

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America is the follow-up to 2016: Obama’s America, which was released two years ago and has become the second most popular political documentary in history. D’Souza says that because 2016 struck a chord with Christian audiences, he expects more of the same with America.

“Contrary to what her enemies try to say about her, America has been a force for good in the world since its creation. I look forward to working with the faith community to get the true story about America out,” D’Souza told The Hollywood Reporter.

Creating sermons around a movie is a tactic Hollywood marketers have been using to reach the nation’s estimated 247 million Christians fairly regularly, ever since Mel Gibson’s $30 million movie, The Passion of the Christ, took in $612 million worldwide in 2004. Even big-budget films from major studios, like Man of Steel from Warner Bros. and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from Fox have commissioned sermons, though sometimes executives try to downplay the effort for fear that publicity would offend non-Christians.

Christian outreach campaigns are usually accompanied by a social media strategy. In the case of America, emails will be sent to 120,000 evangelical churches asking them to promote the film and a company called Faithit.com will send 80,000 additional emails to Christian consumers.

In the 12-page America sermon, Founders like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson are cited, as is French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville and President Ronald Reagan.

Patrick Henry, another Founding Father, is quoted saying: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”

The sermon’s video clips include bits of a Reagan speech and a trailer (embedded below) of George Washington fighting in the American Revolution.

“Ultimately, Jesus used stories to convey truth all the time, so it’s not new, per se, to make spiritual truths from story,” said Hopersberger, who has also written sermons based on God’s Not Dead, the upcoming Persecuted and other movies. “If there was film 2000 years ago, I’m sure Jesus would have used it, too.”

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

 

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