'Son of God' Courting Korean Americans

The film was screened with subtitles for 800 Korean faith leaders and journalists.

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are engaged in a full-court press to encourage Korean Christians living in the U.S. to see their upcoming film, Son of God, which has already been the recipient of a big marketing push in the Hispanic community.

LightWorkers Media, the production company founded by Burnett and Downey, recently hosted two screenings of the film with Korean subtitles, and the events attracted 800 influential members of the fast-growing community, including Korean journalists and faith leaders, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Tuesday.

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Marketers for Son of God, a film about the life of Jesus based on the TV miniseries The Bible, also have visited at least 20 Korean churches and businesses distributing 3,000 posters and 10,000 flyers advertising the movie, which distributor 20th Century Fox will open wide on Friday.

Fox and the filmmakers previously acknowledged a big outreach to Hispanics living in the U.S. and said that dozens of theaters have committed to showing Son of God dubbed in Spanish the same day it opens in English. While an outreach aimed at Korean-Americans is less common in Hollywood, it makes sense in this case, Burnett told THR.

There are 1.7 million Koreans in the U.S., according to the 2012 census, and roughly 70 percent of them are Christians, says Elijah Hyunchul Kim, a director at Grace Korean Church. At the end of 2013 there were 4,323 Korean churches in the U.S., according to Christiantoday.us, 90 more than the year before.

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So far, three theaters in Southern California have committed to showing Son of God with Korean subtitles and 11 churches in six states have booked private screenings, also with Korean subtitles. Normally, Fox makes its biggest films available with Korean subtitles in just a single theater in Los Angeles, said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson.

The outreach also includes a Korean-language website containing several online video endorsements from Korean pastors.

"It's a beautiful situation we have here, with this feature film reaching across culturally in such a vast way," Burnett said.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com