As if 2020 wasn’t awful enough, here’s some unexpected news: God’s Not Dead 4 will soon be coming to theaters or a streaming service near you. (I know what you’re thinking: There was a third film?)
David A. R. White, the co-founder and managing partner of Christian film studio Pure Flix and the main character in God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, announced the movie in an Instagram post over the weekend:
He said the film will be called God’s Not Dead: We the People. Filming will begin in Oklahoma next month. And it’s loosely inspired by the classic Frank Capra film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which Jimmy Stewart‘s character gets appointed to the Senate, then stages a filibuster for all the right reasons.
So it’s possible this culture war movie will be all about some politician fighting against abortion rights, or the existence of trans people, or helping the poor, or the results of a fair election, or whatever else white evangelicals tend to oppose.
But White is no Capra, Kevin Sorbo is no Jimmy Stewart, and Christian persecution in the U.S. still isn’t real.
If you pause that video at just the right time, you can see White hold up the binder with the latest version of the film’s script. It says the first draft was submitted in December of 2019. So whatever the premise, it’s been in the works for a while.
In any case, the film is almost certain to fail.
Just to recap this history of this franchise, the first God’s Not Dead truly was a phenomenon, making more than $64 million during its run in theaters in 2014. The sequel, which came out in 2016, made over $24 million. That likely covered all the production costs and then some, but it wasn’t a blockbuster by any means.
God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, the third film in the series? It made just over $7 million. Not even close to the other two.
Another way of analyzing the success of a film is looking at how it did in its opening weekend.
God’s Not Dead made $9,217,013 in 780 theaters (an average of $11,817) its first weekend.
God’s Not Dead 2 made $7,623,662 in 2,419 theaters (an average of $3,151).
God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness made $2,689,677 in 1,693 theaters (an average of $1,588).
All of that is to say: No one needs a fourth God’s Not Dead film and it likely won’t make much money. And that’s before you even consider what COVID did to movie theaters. If the film ends up on a streaming service, that makes it much harder for churches to plan group outings to see it.
Substantively, it’s hard to see how this film will work because, at this point, the franchise isn’t even about God anymore. The new movie is just a way to milk the title of the first film to sell some other kind of Christian propaganda. You may as well just film White literally beating a dead horse for two hours. It’ll get better reviews with bonus points for honesty.
(via Christian Nightmares. Portions of this article were published earlier)