Religious Thriller 'Persecuted' Giving Free Tickets to Clergy

"Persecuted" poster
"Persecuted" poster
 

Persecuted, a religious thriller starring former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson as a priest whose televangelist son is running for his life from government goons, has hit upon an unusual tactic to court the faithful: free tickets for clergy.

The film is written and directed by Daniel Lusko, the son of a preacher, and he acknowledges there are some elements of Persecuted that could rub churchgoers the wrong way -- a Catholic priest who fathered a Protestant son, for example -- so he appears to be engaging in a bit of early damage control.

The film, which is being released July 18 by Millennium Entertainment, pushed back from its original date of May 9, launched a website Thursday that advertises Preacher's Night Out. Filling out a form gets a preacher two free tickets to the film at a regular theatrical showing after it opens.

The strategy differs from the usual tactic of films trying to woo the faithful with pre-screenings, then attempting to pack theaters by selling group tickets to churches.

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"We know you work hard pouring into the lives of your congregation every day. So to celebrate your faithfulness, we at Persecuted would like to give you a night out on us,” it says at the website.

Besides Thompson, the movie stars James Remar, Bruce Davison, Dean Stockwell, Raoul Trujillo and Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson, who plays a TV news reporter. The movie is produced by Gray Frederickson, who won a best-picture Oscar for The Godfather Part II.

"Hollywood is spending a lot of energy marketing to churches these days. We want to give back to the community by letting pastors and priests know how much they are appreciated," said Lusko. "Being a preacher or a priest is not about the glitz and glamour that you see on TV. It's a thankless job that involves great sacrifice."

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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