September marks the official 10th anniversary of the “Left Behind” (Tyndale) series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The “Left Behind” product line, which includes juvenile novels, audio books, and dramatic audio, has sold more than 63 million copies worldwide.
Left Behind: World at War, opens this October through an entirely new distribution system that will not only challenge fundamental Hollywood rules but also provide churches with an enormous opportunity for outreach into their local communities. This film will be the first ever 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 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 Sunday. And 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 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.
As it did with the with first Left Behind film, Cloud Ten will once again create a national story by re-writing the rule book on film release strategy. Think 200,000 plus Christian churches in America versus 5,000 theaters. A hi-tech proprietary website 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.
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 Hollywood’s 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 Currie’s Nicolae Carpathia – self-appointed supreme ruler of the world.
"I’ve read a lot of scripts -- I’ve been doing this a long time -- and I have to pick and choose certain things,” says Lou Gossett, Jr. “I want to kind of make an impression, spiritually, because that’s where I’ve 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.”
“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 and continue the story of the best-selling books Left Behind and Tribulation Force and follow 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.
Brothers and co-CEO’s Peter and Paul Lalonde founded Cloud Ten Pictures in 1996. The company is the undisputed leader in the production and marketing of faith-based films. Cloud Ten has production and distribution deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. For more information on Cloud Ten Pictures, go to www.cloudtenpictures.com.
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To read Kirk's bio, go to: Kirk Cameron: Credentials!.
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