Whatever its other faults, the success of the The Passion of the Christ last year demonstrated a powerful fact: religious movie-goers have massive buying power. In the wake of The Passion, numerous movies have tried to tap the potential of the religious market: Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Medea’s Family Reunion; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; The Nativity Story, coming out in December, about the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. But the common thread to all these movies is their appeal to the Christian movie-goer. Which leads to the question: are there any movies for the religious Jewish movie-goer?
The answer is yes, sort of. Coming out October 13, One Night with the King tells the story of Purim: how Esther, the Jewish wife of the Persian king, prevented Haman, the king’s advisor, from executing a plot to kill all the Jews. The story of Purim is a particular touchstone for intermarried families, as its heroine is in an interfaith relationship but still deeply connected to the Jewish community. In some ways the story of Purim celebrates the political benefits of Jews marrying into the dominant culture.
But there’s a catch.
One Night with the King is a product of Gener8Xion Entertainment Inc., a Christian media company based in Los Angeles. The head of Gener8Xion is Matthew Crouch, son of Paul and Jan Crouch, founders of the largest Christian television company, Trinity Broadcasting Network. More concerning is the fact that One Night with the King is based on a novel by a Christian pastor, Tommy Tenney.
It’s hard to know what to expect from the movie. Like The Passion and Chronicles of Narnia before it, it’s being prescreened to churches. Unlike those movies, it’s also being prescreened to Jewish audiences. One Night with the King could be a powerful, inspiring story for interfaith families exploring Jewish life–let’s just hope it’s not also a tool for covert Christian proselytizing as well.
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