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Top 100 in Christian Cinema for 2014
Top 100 in Christian Cinema for 2014

Top 100 in Christian Cinema for 2014

by Melinda Ledman

SAN ANTONIO, TX. 

ChristianCinema.com, the largest and most extensive database of Christian movies, just released its annual "Top 100 in Christian Cinema" for the year 2014. "The Christian film industry enjoyed a banner year in 2014," said Vice President Jared Geesey. But this time, Christians did far more than crank out a handful of low-budget films. Join us as we take a quick drive through the top movies of 2014, focusing the top ten films, viewer trends, and how the landscape of the film industry changed last year.

Coming in at number one, God’s Not Dead stars Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A.R. White, Dean Cain, and features special appearances by the Newsboys and Duck Dynasty stars. This film was a key player in changing the landscape of Christian films. First, it took a hard stand for Christianity rather than cowering apologetically beneath a weak faith message. Though it was criticized for its one-dimensional portrayal of atheists, it became a headliner for the growing list of films that are teaching Christians how to stand against religious persecution. God’s Not Dead also utilized a key marketing strategy that we’ve seen in recent years: collaborating with big name groups or celebrities who have a pre-established fan base. Furthermore, the film earned powerful box office profits, coming in second for the year (behind Heaven is For Real) with 60.7 million gross. These are astounding profits.

Bobby Downes, President and Co-founder of ChristianCinema.com said, "Having spent the last sixteen years connecting filmmakers and audiences with one another, we are thrilled to see support of this magnitude coming in for Christian films." Indeed, behind Passion of the Christ and the Narnia series, the next three all-time, top-grossing at the box-office, Christian films were all produced in 2014.

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Theatrical blockbuster film of the year, Heaven is For Real, came in at number four on our top 100 in sales for 2014. It too followed some new trends in blockbuster Christian films. Based on a New York Times Bestseller of the same name, this film capitalized on its existing fan base, but also built rapport by bringing on Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner, Greg Kinnear. Add to that the talents of successful writer/producer Randall Wallace (Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, We Were Soldiers), and you’ve got a winner, to the tune of $91.4 million. This trend of hiring experienced Christian filmmakers is catching on in Hollywood as Paramount Pictures (who learned from their Noah fiasco) hired Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (The Bible, Son of God) to spearhead next year’s remake of Ben Hur.

Two sleeper hits from 2011 made their way into ChristianCinema.com’s top ten in sales this year. The Pledge, a story about a young man whose life is changed after doing community service with a veterans group, landed at number two. The success of this film and others such as America (#6 all-time box-office leader in political documentaries), Last Ounce of Courage (#21), Kirk Cameron’s Monumental (#31), and the recent theatrical release, Unbroken, shows that Christian audiences still strongly support patriotism. It’s no wonder that watching these films becomes a family affair. The second surprise 2011 hit was The Frontier Boys, which landed at number ten. That story follows four best friends on a basketball team who must recover from a tragedy that shakes their community to the core.

Numbers three and five at the top of our list were the chick-flick comedies Finding Normal (#3) and Mom’s Night Out (#5). Finding Normal, a 2013 romantic comedy starring Candace Cameron Bure and Lou Beatty Jr., follows one woman’s comedic, enlightening, and extra-long detour on the way to her wedding. Mom’s Night Out, more comedy than romance, landed at number five after a successful theatrical release in May. It follows the pitfalls and enlightening revelations of a mom who just wants a little time off. Like other theatrical releases last year, Mom’s Night Out (an Erwin Brothers production) included famous celebrities such as Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton and Trace Atkins. But it also used creative marketing strategies, including red carpet premiere giveaway contests, promotions through bloggers, "2 for 1" promotions after the release and social media giveaways. Furthermore, both of these films stretched the ever-expanding genre options for Christian films by opening the doors for comedy films. They are joined by other comedies on the top 100 list including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (#27), Snowmen (#29), What If (#45), Tim Hawkins: That’s the Worst (#56), A Strange Brand of Happy (#62), and Rogue Saints (#82).

Revelation Road 3: Black Rider took its place at number six. Third in a series by Pureflix, its predecessors didn’t do too badly either. Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire (#17) and Revelation Road (#19) also landed in the top twenty for the year. The series follows former special ops soldier Josh McManus in his journeys through an apocalyptic, post-rapture society. Like the comedy films from last year, this series offered viewers something other than drama genre films, providing some great action/adventure/apocalypse fare.

The success of the Revelation Road series also highlights an interesting trend for Pureflix Entertainment. Seven, yes SEVEN, of the top twenty highest-selling DVDs of 2014 were Pureflix Entertainment films, including God’s Not Dead, Finding Normal, the three Revelation Road films, Redeemed, and The Book of Daniel.  Pureflix clearly understands what Christian viewers want to see in their films, and we look forward to this year’s movies, including Do You Believe?, which will release in March.

Redeemed and Unstoppable, numbers seven and eight on our list, address more serious topics that hit home at the spiritual level. Redeemed focuses on the challenges of marriage. Like 2014’s theatrical release, The Song, Redeemed focuses on the temptation toward infidelity in a marriage. When temptation abounds, it’s time to make a change. Redeemed joins other films in the top 100 like The War Within (#14), The Encounter (#25), The Lamp (#60), and Fireproof Special Edition (#76) that deal with the ups and downs of marriages, and the healing that Christ can bring. Kirk Cameron’s Unstoppable addresses the problem of God’s sovereignty over pain and tragedy. While the list of titles that share this common thread abounds on our Top 100 list, Johnny (#75) and Acts of God (#87) deal more directly with the problem of pain than many of the others.

Finally, number nine on our list (number ten was covered above) is Son of God, a feature film produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey that highlights the life and death of Christ. Taking footage from their successful television miniseries, The Bible, and filling out the story of the life of Christ with new footage, these experienced filmmakers made use of existing material to create something new. They also made some wise marketing choices by collecting endorsements from almost every key religious leader in America. Loaded with quotes and video endorsements, the website looks like a phone book of key influencers. These efforts, along with maintaining the general accuracy of Scripture, certainly paid off with a box office gross of $59 million.

So what about the remaining ninety films? "With over 4,000 titles available at ChristianCinema.com, we are able to observe trends in Christian audience preferences," said Vice President Jared Geesey. "Our customer reviews and rating system, links to Facebook comments regarding the film, and the Q&A discussion panels for each film tell a lot about what our customers like and don’t like. They also help new customers make informed decisions about which films to purchase or rent."

Based on the Top 100 list, some key trends emerge among DVD rental subscribers and online purchasers. The list featured quite a few Bible Stories (too many to list!) and "modern day" Bible story adaptations like A Long Way Off (#16), Seasons of Gray(#23), and My Name is Paul (#76). Buyers also showed a clear following for the two Jeanette Oke series, When Calls the Heart Series (with titles landing at numbers 18, 32, 54, and 86) and the Love Comes Softly Series (coming in at numbers 11, 41, and 48). There were a surprising number of Christmas films in the top 50, and fans of the Kendrick Brothers continued to show their support with the presence of Facing the Giants (#40), Fireproof (#76) and Courageous (#53) on the list. To see the entire list and make your own observations about emerging trends, check out the entire list below.

There was also a steady rise in the number of Digital on Demand purchases in 2014. "As of now, we have over 1,100 titles available On Demand, and we are adding more every week," said Geesey. "As the number of films produced increases, the customer demand rises, and the technology used for entertainment changes, we are committed to staying ahead of the curve." Staying ahead of the curve is no joke, either. "Besides the annual Top 100 list, ChristianCinema.com is the leading resource for all things Christian film, including news, reviews, interviews, articles, and its recently launched Sneak Peek Radio program with veteran radio host Adam McManus," says Bobby Downes, co-founder of ChristianCinema.com.

Several other films are worth noting that did not make our list. These landed in the top 10 of box office sales for Christian films, but most just released to DVD in December or won’t release until later this month. When the Game Stands Tall ($30 Million), Left Behind ($14 million), The Identical ($2.8 million), and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas ($2.7 million) haven’t had much time to get on the radar, but we will see how these films fare in the 2015 edition of "Top 100 in Christian Cinema"

"What a great year for Christian film 2014 has been," Geesey said. "And looking at our release calendar, we are looking forward to 2015 as an even better year for faith-based movies."

 

Top 100 in Christian Cinema of 2014

  1. Gods Not Dead
  2. The Pledge
  3. Finding Normal
  4. Heaven Is For Real
  5. Moms Night Out
  6. Revelation Road 3: Black Rider
  7. Redeemed
  8. Unstoppable
  9. Son of God
  10. The Frontier Boys
     
  11. Loves Christmas Journey
  12. SIX - The Mark Unleashed
  13. The Book of Daniel
  14. The War Within
  15. In the Name of God
  16. A Long Way Off
  17. Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire
  18. When Calls the Heart: The Complete First Season
  19. Revelation Road
  20. Let God
     
  21. Last Ounce of Courage
  22. I Am
  23. Seasons of Gray
  24. Grace Unplugged
  25. The Encounter
  26. Like A Country Song
  27. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
  28. Seven Deadly Words
  29. Snowmen
  30. The Letter Writer
     
  31. Kirk Cameron presents: Monumental
  32. When Calls The Heart: Lost and Found
  33. Kings Faith
  34. In Gramps Shoes
  35. Louie Giglio: How Great Is Our God
  36. Escape From Hell
  37. The Color of Rain
  38. Season of a Lifetime
  39. The Christmas Candle
  40. Facing The Giants
     
  41. Love Begins #9
  42. Silent Night
  43. A Walk in My Shoes
  44. The Redemption of Henry Myers
  45. What If
  46. Christmas Oranges
  47. Jimmy
  48. Loves Everlasting Courage #10
  49. Uphill Battle
  50. Resurrection
     
  51. Ragamuffin
  52. Right to Believe
  53. Courageous - The Movie
  54. When Calls The Heart: The Dance
  55. The Current
  56. Tim Hawkins: Thats The Worst
  57. God Of Wonders
  58. This Is Our Time
  59. Christmas for a Dollar
  60. The Lamp
     
  61. The Book of Acts - (2 DVD Set)
  62. A Strange Brand of Happy
  63. The Trial
  64. The Book Of Ruth: Journey Of Faith
  65. The Light of Freedom
  66. The Wilderness Family Trilogy
  67. Healed by Grace
  68. Truth Be Told
  69. The Jesus Film: 35th Anniversary Edition
  70. Fenced Off
     
  71. Louie Giglio: Indescribable
  72. The Perfect Stranger
  73. Camp Harlow
  74. The Grace Card
  75. Johnny
  76. Fireproof - The Movie - Special Edition DVD
  77. The List
  78. What Katy Did
  79. My Name Is Paul
  80. One Night With The King 
     
  81. Rogue Saints
  82. The Easter Experience Movie
  83. The Perfect Gift
  84. Doonby
  85. A Shine of Rainbows
  86. When Calls the Heart
  87. Acts of God
  88. Visual Bible Series: Matthew - 2 DVD Set
  89. End Of The Spear
  90. Paul the Apostle
     
  91. The Fourth Wise Man
  92. Mission Air
  93. Letters to God
  94. Im In Love With a Church Girl
  95. The Ultimate Gift
  96. The Miracle of the Cards
  97. Clancy
  98. Christmas Snow
  99. The Ultimate Life
  100. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story


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