n the dozen so years since The Passion of The Christ sparked the modern faith-based film wave, there have been dozens of Christian movies at the box office.
We’ve seen movies about police and firefighters (Fireproof, Courageous), movies about glimpses of the afterlife (Miracles From Heaven, Heaven Is For Real), movies about football and surfing (Woodlawn, Soul Surfer), and movies about kidnappings and murders (Captive, End of the Spear). We’ve even had a couple of comedies (Mom’s Night Out, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone).
But there has been a shortage of animated films geared toward children – the last wide one being The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, which was released in 2008.
That will change Nov. 17, when Sony’s Affirm Films releases The Star, which follows a donkey named Bo (voiced by Steven Yeun), a dove named Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), a sheep named Ruth (Aidy Bryant) and a host of other animals as they accompany Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem and experience the nativity story.
An embargo prevents me from saying too much about The Star, but I am free to say this: It’s very good, and it’s genuinely funny – for both children and parents. Also, it’s much better than the trailer. It will have you and your children laughing as the animals witness the greatest story ever told.
DeVon Franklin, who was once named one of the “most influential Christians under 40 by Beliefnet, serves as the executive producer, while Academy Award nominee Timothy Reckart is the director.
Faith-based animated films at the box office are rare. In fact, among the Top 50 grossing Christian films of all time, only three – The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything (2008), Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie (2002) and The Prince of Egypt (1998) – were animated.
Ash Greyson, the founder of Ribbow Media, told the Christian News Journal that the dearth of animated faith films can be attributed to a lack of funds.
“The last few animated faith films have not done very well,” Greyson said. “They are expensive to produce, and I suspect that is why we haven’t seen many. Most people of faith have no issues with Pixar or Disney, so you can’t just pitch a faith animated movie as an alternative to Hollywood.
“I think this is a space where Hollywood can win. Look at what The Prince of Egypt did.”
Released in 1998, The Prince of Egypt opened in second place and stayed in the Top 10 for six weeks. It finished with a total gross of $101 million.
Time will tell whether The Star approaches those numbers. But Christian families at least have another option at the box office.
— by Michael Foust
Foust has covered the film industry for more than a decade. Visit his website, MichaelFoust.com