A lovable elephant is stealing the hearts of children and adults across America. Would you ever expect that Horton of “Horton Hears a Who” could reach the pinnacle of Hollywood stardom as the lead in a number-one box-office hit? The elite executives of Tinseltown would answer “no.” Their reasoning? Horton is a G-rated, animated movie. They claim to know that G-rated movies cannot be number one, especially one based on a Dr. Seuss book written in 1954 about a friendly, talking elephant that comes to the rescue of a community of tiny folks called Whos.
Have you ever watched a movie and thought, “Why did they have to put that in there?” (You fill in the blank with one or all of the following: foul language, nudity, excessive violence, etc.) “This movie would have been so much better without it,” you think. “It really wasn’t necessary and only ended up detracting from the movie.” We have such thoughts frequently.
Hollywood likes to respond: “We are just giving people what they want.” But who are these “people” they are catering to by making movies filled with explicit nudity, graphic violence, profanity and foul language, and rated R or N-17? For answers to questions about the movie marketplace, let’s look at some empirical data. Recent studies reveal that G-rated movies perform exceedingly better in the box office than films on the opposite side of the spectrum. The Nielsen Company reports “G” movies make three to five times more money per movie at the box office than R-rated films.
And it’s not only that the film is G-rated that brings people to the movie theater, but that it’s a movie with strong moral content, like 2007’s popular “Enchanted,” or movies with a strong redemptive or Christian worldview. In the last decade, movies which come to mind with this philosophical viewpoint and theme are “Amazing Grace,” “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Spider-Man 3, “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Remember the Titans,” to name just a few.
“Sex, nudity, obscenity, and profanity don’t really sell that well, especially in extreme forms,” says Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide, a comprehensive directory which examines the content of movies. “But movies with very strong Christian worldviews do three to 11 times better than movies with sex, nudity and foul language,” he says. “They also perform much better than movies with very strong non-Christian, immoral, false, or even anti-Christian worldviews.” Baehr’s data comes from a recently released five-year study showing that movies with very strong Christian worldviews earn the most money.