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It's been one year since 20th Century Fox became the first major Hollywood studio to launch a line of movies aimed specifically at a Christian audience. Since its debut last fall, Fox Faith has had hit-and-miss results, with poor box office numbers offset by strong video sales and rentals.

Some industry observers have wondered if the label might be in trouble, but studio execs say that's not the case.

"We're alive and well," said Steve Feldstein, senior vice president of Fox Home Entertainment, which oversees Fox Faith. "We are very much in the business."

Perhaps, but the first year has been a something of a roller coaster—not just in box office and sales figures, but with image and perception from both professionals and laypeople.

The notion of a "Christian film label" stirs all sorts of reactions, pro and con. Many Christians embrace the notion of having their "own" brand of movies. Others have long been concerned that such a venture is merely separating from the world by remaining in a "safe-for-the-whole-family" bubble, with the end result being poorly made films that "pander" to the Christian consumer and aren't taken seriously in the general market.

Producers frustrated

Meanwhile, one movie producer recently expressed frustration with Fox Faith's marketing strategy, and another said he will take his films elsewhere for distribution.

Rick Eldridge, producer of The Ultimate Gift, which earned a respectable $3.4 million at the box office, said the film might have done much better in its theatrical run last spring had it not been released under the Fox Faith label.

"I really felt this story had strong values that would hit home with the general market," Eldridge told Scripps-Howard recently, when his film released to DVD. ...

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October 2007

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