LOS ANGELES – Seems Warner Bros. has taken movie marketing to a whole new level — even higher than a bird or a plane.
The studio enlisted Christian-focused firm Grace Hill Media to promote "Man of Steel" to faith-based groups by inviting them to early screenings and creating trailers that highlight the film's religious themes. They also enlisted Craig Detweiler, a Pepperdine University professor and author of "Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century," to create a Superman-centric sermon outline for pastors titled "Jesus: The Original Superhero."
"Let's consider how Superman's humble origins, his high calling and his transforming sacrifice point us towards Jesus, the original superhero," the notes read.
The tale of Superman has long been associated with religious allegories. "Man of Steel," which stars British actor Henry Cavill in the titular role, doesn't shy away from that theme, including portraying the character as 33 years old, having him seek counsel at a church in a time of crisis and forming a cross-like pose while floating in space.
"I just felt like you could be cute with it and pretend like it doesn't exist, but what that does is hold back the mythology of Superman," said "Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder in an interview to promote the film earlier this month.
Snyder added, "Comic books are our mythology now. We don't really have gods that we believe in that live up on a mountain. We barely believe in the gods that we have, and I just feel like Superman allows us to explain the modern world."
Hollywood studios frequently market movies to specific religious and cultural groups. Warner Bros. previously marketed films like "The Blind Side," ''The Notebook," ''The Book of Eli" and the "Harry Potter" series — but not "Green Lantern" — to faith-based groups.
"Man of Steel" earned $116.6 million in its opening weekend at the box office, giving it the biggest all-time opening in June, as well as the second largest opening of the year behind "Iron Man 3."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang .