'Faith-based film' label needs to go, experts say

Some big players in the faith-based film industry want to get rid of that exact term: “faith-based film.”

Producer Mark Joseph, whose credits include “The Vessel,” “I am David” and “Ray,” told Fox News the term is unnecessary.

“The term faith-based is an odd term to describe movies-or anything else,” he said. “For most Americans faith is a normal part of our lives so it's only normal that faith is weaved into movies as it's weaved into most of our lives."

Joseph said the term faith-based can turn off some movie goers.

“The term scares away both the marginally religious and the irreligious, and it’s a signal to them that the story is going to be preachy and overbearing.”

Filmmaker Howie Klausner agreed the term needs to disappear.

“… [We] know that for years, ‘faith’ people cheered on any movie with that element -- often when they were awful, just because ‘We need more faith films,’” said Klausner, who worked on “Space Cowboys.” “As a result, we’re not taken very seriously in the world of real movies.”

Producer John Sullivan said the term “faith-based” downplays the role religion plays in everyday life for many moviegoers.

“It diminishes the role of faith like it’s [something] second-tier when a majority of Americans are still religious,” he argued. “Having faith in God is not an extreme view but a very common one, so it should be natural for stories to incorporate that element without being sidelined.”

However, Producer Thurman Mason, whose film “Generational Sins” comes out later this year, argued that it's not the label that hinders the performance of these films at the box office, but rather it’s the tone of the films.

“The problem with faith-based [films] is not the name; it’s the content of these films,” he said. “The secular world cannot relate to on-screen faith-based characters who have been so sterilized that they never curse, make bad decisions, or engage in bad behavior like the majority of folks -- Christian or not -- in the real world.”

In 2016, there were a handful of movies centered around faith that were box office hits. "Miracles From Heaven” and “God’s Not Dead 2" grossed $61 million and $20 million respectively.

Sullivan said recent faith-related films that avoided being labeled as “faith-based” reached a wider audience.

“I think recent films like ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ and even ‘American Sniper’ demonstrate how characters embraced and struggled with their Christian faith without it being a ‘faith-based’ movie.”

“Hacksaw Ridge” grossed $67 million domestically, and “American Sniper” brought in $350 million domestically.