November 16th, 2006

Morality Means Money

money

In an industry that is renowned for pushing the envelope, morality is almost taboo. Sex sells, so why sell anything but?

But conservatives have been bucking the trend. The New American carried a story last year showing the growing support base for clean movies with morals.

In fact, a close look at Hollywood’s bottom line shows that producing wholesome films is not only morally sound but financially rewarding. The outstanding success of blockbusters like the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ is not a fluke. A recent study of the box office statistics of the top 250 movies released by Hollywood shows that moviegoers not only are flocking to G- and PG-rated movies, they also want movies with strong moral messages.

The study, sponsored by the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry (CFTVC), analyzed the content and box office averages of more than 750 movies in 2004, 2003, and 2002. “Movies with strong moral messages, whether they were rated G, PG, PG-13, or R, consistently earn four to seven times as much money on average as movies with immoral messages, according to our biblical standards,” said Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman and founder of the commission.

According to the study, movies released in 2004 like The Incredibles, Spider-Man 2, The Polar Express, Shark Tale, The Passion of The Christ, Miracle, and A Cinderella Story, which contained very strong moral content, “earned nearly $106.7 million on average, more than six times as much money as movies with very strong immoral, negative content or very strong pagan, secular humanist, socialist, homosexual, occult, or anti-religious content, which averaged only $16.4 million per movie in 2004.”

Indeed, many of the most successful movies in recent years have been absent of filthy, offensive content and hence have had more sales appeal:

Furthermore, CFTVC’s annual study of the Top 10 Movies at the domestic box office in 2004, 2003, and 2002 also shows that moviegoers are seeking out family-oriented movies with traditional moral values.

For example, 96 percent of the Top 10 Movies during those years had at least some moral content in them. Also, 80 percent of the Top 10 Movies had no sexual immorality in them or only light sexual references. Finally, only one of the Top 10 Movies in 2004, 2003, or 2002 had any excessive substance abuse in them.

So sorry Hollywood, but sex doesn’t sell. Stop adding that nudity scene, stop tossing in a few gratuitous F-bombs, and stop pushing the envelope. In the end, you’re going to be the one to suffer.

5 Responses to “Morality Means Money”

  1. fontor
    November 16, 2006 at 8:11 pm #

    This shouldn’t be a surprise.

    Adults can enjoy adult movies, but kids and adults can enjoy kid-friendly movies. So kid-friendly movies make more money. Makes sense.

    To say that people want moral messages in film is a bit of a stretch, though. Check this quote:

    “The numbers don’t lie,” Baehr said. “Not only are families beginning to attend movies again, but they are leaving the theaters with a wonderful moral experience. For Hollywood, biblical morals in movies mean more money at the box office.”

    How do they define ‘biblical morals’? Or ‘strong moral content’? When people use sloppy definitions like this, it’s hard to take their results seriously.

    more than six times as much money as movies with very strong immoral, negative content or very strong pagan, secular humanist, socialist, homosexual, occult, or anti-religious content

    Wow, we secular humanists are sure keeping some interesting company these days! Can anyone tell me where I can find even one movie with secular humanist content?

  2. Naiah Earhart
    November 17, 2006 at 9:05 am #

    I liked this one: “96 percent of the Top 10 Movies” Uh, hmm, so 9.6 out of 10 movies had at least some moral content in them. If that .6 is part of the 10th movie, then it must needs be that the statistic should read 100%, as that represents “at least some.” They need to be more careful in their presentation.

    Their point is valid, no doubt. I hope other voices are taking the time to make it, as well. It’s gotta be loud to get through to these guys.

    I mean, Fox has tentatively taken the plunge, launching “Fox Faith” distribution, which recently released the 4th os the ‘Love Comes Softly’ movies nationally. Granted, they only ran for 2 weekends, and so I (and I’m sure a lot of other people who assumed that a national release would carry a regular –longer– run than that.) I feel, though, that it’s almost like their sabotaging their own efforts. Maybe they are, maybe it’s an experiment in manufacturing evidence against producing films for a faith-based/values-based audience. Ugh.

    Hollywood needs to run focus groups *outside* the basin.

  3. Naiah Earhart
    November 17, 2006 at 9:08 am #

    Sorry, I got lost on my own rant up there and forgot half a sentence:

    “Granted, they only ran for 2 weekends, and so I (and I’m sure a lot of other people who assumed that a national release would carry a regular –longer– run than that.)” missed them, and never had a chance to ‘vote with my dollars’.

  4. November 17, 2006 at 2:32 pm #

    In reality the producers don’t put in the inappropriate content to sell film. They do it because those are the values of Hollywood. Seriously.
    Film studios are not stupid. They know what makes money. But they are artists and want to keep the world “free” by pushing the envelope.

  5. Mark Strohm
    November 19, 2006 at 12:38 pm #

    There are alternatives, even in watching today’s not so moral movies. I see you are not married so do not have children yet. For your readers with children, I cover several alternatives on my blog.

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