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Son of God is distributed by 20th Century Fox but the marketing has been largely a labor of love from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, and the filmmakers are leaving nothing to chance in their effort to turn out the largest possible number of faithful Christians for the movie’s opening on Friday.
Burnett and Downey and their LightWorkers Media production company, for example, have engaged the marketing services of various entities, one of which on Friday sent tens of thousands of emails to Christians that not only asked them to see the film but recommended several ways to encourage others to do likewise.
The email, signed by Burnett and Downey, contained dozens of Internet links to stories and websites dedicated to the film and several videos, including a version of the trailer done in Legos. The video – embedded below — was created by someone not affiliated with the film and has since been embraced by Burnett.
One of the many links in the email takes recipients to ShareSonOfGod.com, which explains how Christians can “take over” their local theaters by renting screens and buying large numbers of tickets in advance. A video shows Pastor Miles McPherson of the Rock Church explaining how he secured all 20 screens of a San Diego multiplex for Son of God this weekend.
“Christians are really good at criticizing Hollywood nonstop; when something comes out of Hollywood that’s God-honoring and potentially high-impact, we ought to be the first people in line to support it,” Pastor Ray Johnston of Bayside Church says in a video. “Every time I see something like this come along – this incredible film that Mark and Roma put together, I’m going, ‘I’m using that’,” says Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.
The last-minute marketing blitz also includes a push from NASCAR driver Blake Koch, whose racecar was recently painted to advertise Son of God and who said Wednesday he is giving away a trip to Talladega Superspeedway as part of his effort to sell advance tickets to the film. He partnered with Burnett and Downey on yet another website, this once called Racing for Son of God.
The marketing effort is also benefiting from numerous mentions on Fox News and talk radio, and occasionally from more mainstream outlets. On Wednesday, for example, The Late Show With David Letterman featured a Top 10 list of inaccuracies in Son Of God. No. 4 was, “When performing a miracle, Jesus says, ‘Shazam!’,” and No. 7 was, “At the Last Supper, Regis excuses himself before the check arrives.” No. 1 was a visual involving the TV show Happy Days. See the segment below.
In introducing the segment, host David Letterman said of Son of God: “You know what this is? It’s a film. This is going to be enormous. It’s all about Jesus Christ, and it opens on Friday.”
Insiders say the plug was unsolicited.
Tracking faith-based audiences is a notoriously tricky exercise, and estimates for opening weekend for Son of God has the film earning as little as $14 million or as much as $30 million.
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