In the October 1984 issue of reason, David Brudnoy wrote that conservatives "have a grudge against Hollywood, and against movie critics, too." But they had failed to create a sustainable alternative. While some movies may contain clear liberal biases, Brudnoy noted, movies funded by conservatives didn't do well. 1982's Inchon, for example, was "the most phenomenal money-loser of all time."
What happened? Brudnoy wrote that Inchon was "virtually impossible to sit through, embarrassing even to those who liked its politics." Better movies, though, didn't necessarily do bigger business; Brudnoy cites 1983's The Final Option, which "stood forthrightly against the left and for the established verities" but bombed in the box office. Brudnoy suggested "the right wing doesn't attend the cinema," and that is part of why conservatism didn't have influence in Hollywood.
Thirty years later, it's still possible to find antipathy toward Tinseltown among the religious right. Darren Aronofsky's epic film Noah elicited negative reactions from some quarters of the religious community before it even premiered. National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson said he identified an "extremist environmental agenda" inserted into the movie.
The industry periodical Variety reported on a survey by Faith Driven Consumer which found 98 percent of self-identified "faith-driven consumers" weren't satisfied with how Hollywood treated biblical tales. Paramount hit back, criticizing Variety for the "inaccurate" report and pointing to another survey that found 83 percent of "very religious" respondents were interested in Noah. Paramount also responded to criticism by some Christian conservatives by issuing a statement before the movie's release noting that "artistic license had been taken" and that the original Noah story could be found in the Bible's Book of Genesis.
While conservative criticism of Hollywood remains a thriving cottage industry, the market niche for Christian and conservative filmmaking has grown substantially. A month before the release of Noah, the Christian drama God's Not Dead received a more limited release in theaters. It took in $8.6 million in 780 theaters on opening weekend, the most successful opening of a faith-based movie released in less than 1,000 theaters to date. Several more films targeting conservative Christians are planned this year, including Heaven Is for Real, an adaptation of a bestseller about a child's vision of heaven, and a remake of the evangelical apocalyptic thriller, Left Behind, starring Nicolas Cage.