updated: Oct. 18, 2005
When Left Behind: World at War, opens on October 21, 2005, it will do so through a distribution system that not only challenges fundamental Hollywood rules but also provide churches with an opportunity for outreach into their local communities. This film will be the first large budget film to open in churches, not theaters, across the nation.
In the 70s and 80s, before the days of VHS, 16MM church film nights were one of the greatest ways that churches could introduce non-believers to their church, notes Cloud Ten’s co-CEO Peter Lalonde. We want to revive that outreach.
Currently, churches and ministries all over the country are signing up to participate in this ground-breaking event. For Lalonde there is passion behind the vision. He first set foot in a gospel church in 1983 to watch The Prodigal. It was a Thursday night and I was moved by the pastors brief message after the film. I was back on Sundayand the next Sunday. I became a believer the following Sunday and was a member of that church for eight years before relocating to another city.
Today Lalonde understands both the spiritual and business side of Cloud Ten Pictures and the “Left Behind” film franchise. Brother and co-CEO Paul adds, Our goal is to provide churches, and other Christian venues, with a well-supported, turn-key event that allows them to both reach out to their community and raise funds for their local ministries instead of pouring it into theaters coffers. Much like Mel did, we are going both within and outside the Hollywood system.
Instead of renting out or buying all the seats in a theater, participating congregations will play the film in their churches with a DVD. They will pay a nominal license fee, and then designate their box office take from ticket sales to benefit whatever program they desire, whether it be for missions, expansion or youth activities.
Cloud Ten is trying to re-write the rule book on film release strategy. Think 200,000 plus Christian churches in America versus 5,000 theaters. A hi-tech proprietary Web site will service churches that are serving as opening weekend screens, individuals looking for a local theater to see the movie, fans wanting to stay informed, and media seeking updates on this innovative release method, says Cloud Ten.
The film’s star and a strong Christian himself, Kirk Cameron loves the idea. It is something that has never been done before, but the idea of creating a distribution system that aims to open on as many screens as Hollywoods biggest films is ingenious. If this works as we all wholeheartedly believe it will, then to access this new delivery method, Hollywood studios will have make good family films that are acceptable for pastors to show in their churches. It is the next step in the process after The Passion. This is how we can impact what Hollywood produces.
“Left Behind: World at War” opens theatrically in churches the weekend of October 21-23. Churches may have as many screenings over than weekend as they wish. Then, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the DVD on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
While the distribution strategy may be new, Cloud Ten Pictures has kept the cast of leading characters intact. Kirk Cameron and his wife Chelsea Noble, Brad Johnson, Janaya Stephens and Gordon Currie all return and are joined by Academy Award-winner Lou Gossett, Jr., who plays U.S. President Gerald Fitzhugh opposite Curries Nicolae Carpathia self-appointed supreme ruler of the world.
Ive read a lot of scripts Ive been doing this a long time and I have to pick and choose certain things, says Lou Gossett, Jr. I want to make an impression, spiritually, because thats where Ive arrived at. Not much is going to get me to come to Canada in the winter but this is a story that HAS to be told. Lou appeared in a previous Christian film for Cloud Ten titled Deceived (see our review).
Signing on a respected, Oscar winning actor like Lou is a clear indicator of the new direction we seek to take with Christian film, says producer Andre van Heerden. And collaborating with the creative team at Sony has provided a different level of expertise in everything from casting, the script, the visual effects and the overall feature film feel this project will have. Yet, the core Gospel message remains squarely in place.
The “Left Behind” films are based on The New York Times #1 Best-Selling book of the same name. The series, which has sold more than 60 million copies worldwide, was written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and follows the lives and struggles of those left behind on Earth after the rapture of the church as foretold in the Bible. Left Behind was named the Best Selling Title of the Year by an Independent Studio and the next film debuted on DVD second only to Spiderman.
To find out more about “Left Behind: World at War” or how to be a part of the opening weekend outreach, visit the projects official Web site at leftbehind-worldatwar.com.
Brothers and co-CEOs Peter and Paul Lalonde founded Cloud Ten Pictures in 1996. Cloud Ten Pictures has a production and distribution deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.