Let Ticket Sales Rise: Finding A Category For the Hillsong Movie

A new movie opens tomorrow titled Let Hope Rise. It’s a profile of the famous worship band Hillsong, and it’s being billed as a “theatrical worship experience.” Aside from the disconcert of seeing “theater” and “worship” so close together, I’m intrigued by this movie as another example of a “confirmation film.” I first heard that label from film publicist Erik Lokkesmoe. Lokkesmoe says there are five kinds of belief-centered films:

  • Conversion-To-Belief Films. These are intended to reach the world. They are evangelistic crusades in movie form.
  • Confirmation-Of-Belief Films. These are bumper stickers in movie form, created to send a message to Hollywood. God’s Not Dead is a good example.
  • Commercialization-Around-Belief Films. This happens when a studio decides to make a blockbuster spectacle from a widely-known biblical story. Think Noah or Exodus.
  • Causation-From-Belief Films. These are stories wherein circumstances change because of the influence of faith-filled characters. These are often biographical. Examples include Selma, Amazing Grace, and The Blind Side.
  • Conversation-Around-Belief Films. These movies provide more questions than answers. They start discussions. Lokkesmoe says they fill a “space between mass-and-crass and teach-and-preach.” Last Days In the Desert is a good example.

Let Hope Rise is about Confirmation-To-Belief. It appears to have very little plot and scant transformation of characters of circumstances (except the getting famous part). What it achieves is giving the Christian-movie-voting-block a box office ticket to punch.