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October 1, 2006

FoxFaith Launching First Theater Release with Love's Abiding Joy

Back in April, I wrote a post about the formation and promotion of FoxFaith, the division of the Fox broadcasting company aiming particularly at a Christian niche market. This division includes a lot of famous films in its list, repurposed content that is more family-friendly or considered "classic," such as Oklahoma!, The Grapes of Wrath, and Cheaper by the Dozen...okay so the last one may not be destined for quite as revered a status.

The division has a listing of "family films," "kids films," and "Christian based" films and has already released some titles to DVD (some of which were originally television movies) such as End of the Spear, a story of a man investigating the death of his father and four other missionaries when he was a child; Mother Teresa, a biopic of the famed missionary's life; and Love's Long Journey, a story of a woman's travel to the western frontier. The division lists their offerings as "family and Christian films everyone can enjoy!" and include the stamp of approval from The Dove Foundation, which bills itself as "the reliable symbol of family-friendly entertainment."

However, the big move for their company is their first theater release this month of a film adaptation of Janette Oke's Love's Abiding Joy, focusing on the same protagonist as the earlier DVD release Love's Long Journey.

This Love series foregrounded Oke as a "pioneer" of inspirational fiction, according to her own site, and her first novel sold her one million copies, and her work has been translated into 14 languages and has sold more than 22 million copies worldwide.

FoxFaith, building on its earlier DVD releases and the build-in audience for Oke's product, is hoping to have success launching the new film, set to open Oct. 6 and appearing paticularly in Carmike and AMC theaters.

The hope is to bring in Christian movie viewers who may be turned off by many Hollywood offerings, and the company is hoping to be successful in theater runs as well as straight-to-DVD releases.

The film has another built-in major name in family entertainment, with the director and writer being Michael Landon Jr., whose father has been seen by many as a standard bearer in family television through Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.

The movie's official site features not only trailers and clips and directions of how to find a theater that is playing it, but it also includes various church resources as well, including Web baners, postcards, and a discussion guide for church groups.

According to the site, this is the first film released by the company into theaters but the fourth of the Love series on film. All of the previous three were written and directed by Michael Landon Jr. as well and "ranked as the 3 highest rated films in the history of the Hallmark channel."

Will that built-in niche audience lead to a successful theater run for Love's Abiding Joy and FoxFaith? We will find out soon...

Thanks to Henry Jenkins IV for passing this along.

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