Rick Santorum’s plan to destroy Hollywood: Turn churches into movie theaters
Rick Santorum has fired a warning shot across Hollywood’s bows with proposals to build a new film distribution system in which faith-orientated movies are screened in churches rather than cinemas.
The former Republican senator for Pennsylvania, who has previous labelled Hollywood “the devil’s playground”, is hoping to usher in a new dawn via documentary One Generation Away. Released by EchoLight Studios, the faith-oriented film production company of which Santorum became CEO in June 2013, the movie laments the increasing persecution it suggests Christians in the US are finding themselves subjected to.
Santorum has sent a five-minute promotional film to 3,000 American religious leaders offering them the chance to screen the documentary at their place of worship. The deal gives EchoLight $5 for every ticket sold, while churches are free to set the ticket price.
“Many churches all over the country have the ability of theatrical-quality projection and sound,” Santorum told the Hollywood Reporter. “Instead of trying to encourage our church audience to go to the theatre, how about our church audiences go to church?”
A premiere is planned in San Diego on 29 August, with free tickets for anyone who signs up online or through their church. “You’ve got to customise your business model to meet the market that you have,” said Santorum. “We’re intentional about making movies for the faith community, and we just thought this was the next logical step.”
EchoLight hopes to make and distribute four films a year, with budgets of about $3m, using the new system. One Generation Away’s subjects include the faith-owned arts-and-crafts business Holly Lobby, which recently won a legal ruling stating that it does not have to pay for free contraception for its employees, and a Christian cake-maker from Colorado who lost a lawsuit in which he protested against preparing a cake for a gay wedding.
EchoLight Studios’ previous movies include The Christmas Candle, starring Susan Boyle as a British chorister with the voice of an angel, and Jesus western The Redemption of Henry Myers. The latter film was shown on the Hallmark channel in the US, and Santorum hopes to sell more films to TV in the future. He expects to introduce a five-week window similar to the longstanding theatrical window that protects cinema releases from DVD and on-demand rentals.