Liberal secular progressive newspaper is forced to admit Christian film is a hit after claiming it will tank. Praise Jesus. I hope believers continue to support this film and continue to prove the Christophobic JESUS-BASHERS wrong.
Christians come out of the closet! Stand up for Jesus and our faith. End Christophobia. Legalize Jesus.
NEW YORK TIMES FORCED TO ADMIT
‘OCTOBER BABY’ A HIT
The Old Gray Lady must be grinding her teeth today.
The New York Times ran a scathing review of the anti-abortion film “October Baby” a few weeks back, clearly hoping the film would suffer a quick box office death en route to DVD and other home video options.
Instead, the film is a hit, and the newspaper was forced to admit as much today.
The movie, the first feature by a pair of filmmaking brothers from Birmingham, Ala., opened the same weekend as the chart-topping “Hunger Games,” but with the backing of evangelical groups and churches, “October Baby,” managed to open at No. 8 and, through Sunday, had made $2.8 million, more than three times its production budget. It is expected to move to more than 500 screens on April 13.
Film Inspired by ‘Abortion Survivor’ Is Quiet
HitSamuel Goldwyn Films
Rachel Hendrix in “October Baby.”
As mass entertainment goes, the abortion debate does not typically count as good Saturday-night date movie fare; the subject rarely makes it to the mainstream multiplex. But at a time when the issue is once again causing agitation in political circles, a small film, “October Baby,” about a woman who learns she is, as the movie puts it, a “survivor of a failed abortion,” is making a dent at theaters across the country.
The movie, the first feature by a pair of filmmaking brothers from Birmingham, Ala., opened the same weekend as the chart-topping “Hunger Games,” but with the backing of evangelical groups and churches,“October Baby” managed to open at No. 8 and, through Sunday, had made $2.8 million, more than three times its production budget. It is expected to move to more than 500 screens on April 13.
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films and the Sony-owned Provident Films, which specializes in socially-conservative religious fare, it benefited from the kind of grass-roots religion-focused marketing (enlisting Bible and prayer groups and ministries) that has carried their other Christian-oriented movies, like “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” to box-office success.
But those films did not center on a lightning-rod topic like abortion. “October Baby” tells the story of Hannah, 19, a home-schooled Baptist who is told by a doctor that her ailments — asthma, seizures, moodiness — are the result of being born prematurely after an abortion attempt.
Hannah sets out to find her birth mother, a quest that ends in tears and, ultimately, a lesson in forgiveness delivered by a Catholic priest.
It was inspired by the story of Gianna Jessen, who says she was delivered alive at a California clinic after a late-term saline-injection abortion. As a paid speaker at anti-abortion events she tells of her struggles and medical conditions. (The film doesn’t get into the science, but a 1985 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology examined 33,000 suction curettage abortions and found a failure rate of 2.3 per 1,000 at the 12-weeks or earlier.)
Though “October Baby” arrives at a moment when reproductive rights and women’s sexual health are again part of a robust national debate, its makers say they weren’t acting with a political agenda.
“I was just dumbfounded by a true story,” said Jon Erwin, 29, a co-writer and a producer of the movie, which he directed with his brother Andrew, 33. “I didn’t see it as a political issue.”
The Erwin brothers, who were home-schooled in what they described as a Christian household, said they voted Republican and considered themselves conservatives. But, they said, they did not think deeply about the abortion debate until they heard Ms. Jessen speak. “I began to research it because I didn’t know there was such a thing as an abortion survivor,” Jon Erwin said. “I’m an artist — sometimes the way artists process things is through art. I just felt I had to put this perspective on film.”
As it made its way to theaters, “October Baby” gained support, manpower or financing from conservative organizations like Focus on the Family.
Last year, before the film’s commercial release, it received test screenings in Alabama and Mississippi, just as Mississippi was considering a “personhood” ballot initiative that would have outlawed abortions. Though that amendment was defeated, the screenings, which scored well with audiences, were promoted by the American Family Association, a Christian-values group that has been active in the presidential race.
Given the links to these groups, the abortion rights organization Naral Pro-Choice America contends that the film is tied to an extreme anti-abortion message. A spokesman, Ted Miller, added that his group was “concerned that some proceeds from this film could be going to organizations that may intentionally mislead women about their health-care options.” The film’s credits include a list of anti-abortion Web sites, some in the guise of therapeutic resources, Naral said.
The Erwin brothers said they had earmarked 10 percent of the movie’s profits for a charity they founded, Every Life Is Beautiful, which supports adoption and so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
Kris Fuhr, vice president for theatrical marketing at Provident, said the company’s films typically list Web sites in the credits as a way to get viewers involved. “The beauty of movies is that they live on and on,” she said. “We hope that as people find this movie, that they’re able to get help if they feel like they need some help.”
She said she hoped the movie would spur conversation among audiences. “The movie is a very evenhanded portrayal of something that occurs in our society every day,” she said. “I think that clearly folks who have written about it and called it propaganda — there is something deeply personal about the movie that touches them.”
For Focus on the Family, the film was “so consistent with our strategic priorities to advocate for children and be a voice for life,” Kelly Rosati, vice president of community outreach for the group, said, adding that with a story about adoption the film followed “what we would describe as a pro-life agenda, an agenda that values both moms and their preborn babies.”
“October Baby” began the way most independent films do, with a small budget and a tight schedule. The Erwin brothers, whose credits include filming sports for ESPN and producing videos for Christian music stars like Amy Grant, shot for 20 days around Alabama in 2010. The cast includes John Schneider (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) and Jasmine Guy (“A Different World”) alongside an unknown in the lead, Rachel Hendrix, whom Andrew Erwin discovered when she attended the same college as his wife.
But Meyer Gottlieb, the president of Samuel Goldwyn, noted that on the aggregate ratings site RottenTomatoes.com, audience approval is high — currently 89 percent — adding that he was not bothered by critics who contend that the movie is propaganda. “Controversy is not a bad thing in and of itself,” he said.
And he said the timing of the release had more to do with box office than politics. “Frankly, I wasn’t looking at the political landscape,” he said. “We’re a niche distributor — counterprogramming big Hollywood movies is a big part of our releasing strategy.” (The response to “October Baby” has not been overwhelming everywhere. On Saturday evening at the only Manhattan theater where it is playing, just 10 people were in the audience.)
With its soft-focus gaze and soundtrack of moody pop, “October Baby” is more melodramatic, and far less stark, than other recent films that deal with abortion, like the 2007 Tony Kaye documentary “Lake of Fire.” The Erwin brothers, who count Frank Capra as an inspiration but also like the films of another pair of brothers, the Coens (“they’re quirky,” Andrew said), say their film is not about pointing fingers at abortion providers or women, but about forgiveness.
“I wanted to make a movie about the value of each and every life, and how wonderful the choice for life is,” Jon Erwin said.
Ms. Fuhr also said she believed the movie was preaching compassion. “To the young woman who found herself pregnant,” she said, “if she found compassion early in the road, she might’ve made a different decision.”