After a disappointing theatrical run in December and early January, The Nativity Story releases to DVD today—a tale of the birth of Jesus just weeks before Christians worldwide observe his death and resurrection at Easter.
"I think it's good timing," director Catherine Hardwicke told CT Movies. "And I'm excited that a lot of people are going to be seeing it for the first time. So many people have told me they missed it in the theater, and that they can't wait to see it."
The "can't wait to see it" part of that observation is good news for New Line Cinema, which spent about $65 million making and marketing the film, but only earning about $46 million ($38 million domestically) in its theatrical run. The studio will likely more than recoup its losses in DVD sales, especially as they plan to release a two-disc special edition just before Christmas.
But it's the first part of Hardwicke's observation—that so many people "missed it" in theaters—that had New Line execs (and other Hollywood bigwigs who were watching closely) wondering, "Where are all the Christians?" They weren't expecting the monster numbers of The Passion of the Christ ($371 million domestically, $612 million worldwide), but they certainly hoped to do better at the cineplex.
Said Hardwicke, "We hoped that more people would see it, of course."
A January story in The Los Angeles Times explored possible reasons why the film didn't do very well. Laurie Foos, a student a Fuller Theological Seminary, told The Times she tried to see The Nativity Story on Christmas Day, but the local theater had already dropped it. Foos said she might have tried to see it sooner (it opened Dec. 1), but hadn't heard anything about the film in the Christian community: "I wish ...1