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Producers of ATHEIST LOVE LETTER Reverse Decision; Accept Faith-Based Movie Ad

Producers of ATHEIST LOVE LETTER Reverse Decision; Accept Faith-Based Movie Ad

With box office hits such as "God's Not Dead," "Heaven is for Real," and the critically acclaimed movie "The Saratov Approach," 2014 has been called "the year of God at the movies." In contrast to this trend in movie theaters is the widely popular musical entitled "The Book of Mormon" now touring the nation.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "The Book of Mormon" musical have called their musical "an atheist love letter to religion." The producers of the musical promote the fact that it contains "profanity" and "blasphemy."

"The Saratov Approach" is a nail-biting suspense thriller based on the inspiring true story of two missionaries abducted in Russia.

Both "The Saratov Approach" and "The Book of Mormon" musical are based on the lives of Mormon missionaries.

Recent efforts to promote the movie were thwarted when the distributor of the movie tried to purchase ad space in the playbill of the Detroit run of "The Book of Mormon" musical.

Cedar Fort film acquisition and development manager Spencer Harden received an email on June 3, 2014, from the sales and marketing director of Broadway in Detroit which said, "I have bad news. Our final program has to be approved by the producers of 'The Book of Mormon' and unfortunately they have asked us to not accept this ad."

Harden asked if the producers gave a reason why and the director wrote back to say he had asked the producers if the ad was rejected because of the headline or content of the movie and they responded by saying "both."

"I was surprised by the response," said Harden. "I had always heard that the creators of the musical were open to differing points of view. If our headline was too controversial, we were ready to submit new artwork, but if it was the content of the movie? Well, I was stunned, especially considering the powerful message of faith, hope and love conveyed in the movie."

Garrett Batty, the director of "The Saratov Approach," made the film as a counter to the naive caricatures depicted in "The Book of Mormon" musical.

While studying in film school, Batty was impressed by the story of the Saratov kidnappings making national headlines.

"President Clinton, Baptists, Catholics--the whole nation came together to work and pray for the safe return of the Mormon missionaries," said Batty. "I started thinking about the incident again when 'The Book of Mormon' musical premiered and won a bunch of Tony Awards. That's a piece of theater that tells a missionary story different from the one I had experienced. I wanted to add my voice to the conversation."

The Saratov Approach - Theatrical Trailer

"'The Saratov Approach' has done remarkably well for us," Harden said. "BuzzFeed Entertainment calls it 'a movie even agnostics will love.' Having received critical acclaim, we decided we have to take this film to the whole nation as a banner film standing for faith."

According to Harden, buying ads in the playbills of theaters in the national tour of "The Book of Mormon" musical is a big part of Cedar Fort's strategy to take "The Saratov Approach" to the nation. Theaters in other parts of the nation either had no problem with the ads or did not need to ask the musical producers for approval.

Efforts by Harden and reporters to contact the producers directly received no response until June 10, 2014 when the producers changed their mind.

"After trying to reach out on several occasions to see if we could provide new artwork, I received a polite phone call from the sales and marketing manager at Broadway in Detroit," said Harden. "He said the producers had seen an ad accepted by the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis and would allow us to do something like that."

Cedar Fort will send the ad that the producers of the musical have now approved.

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