TUPELO, MI (EP) – Christian activists who protested the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” won a tremendous victory, according to the American Family Association (AFA). The AFA says Universal Pictures suffered a humiliating financial loss of $10-13 million because of successful boycott efforts.
About one percent of the roughly 13,000 theaters in the country have shown the movie, and so far Universal has reportedly recovered less than $4 million of their $15-l7 million investment.
“The Christian community has won a tremendous victory,” claims Rev. Donald E. Wildmon, executive director of the AFA. “We joined hands and worked together and accomplished what appeared to be impossible. Against tremendous odds – millions of dollars in promotion by MCA/Universal, all the support MCA/Universal could rally in the Hollywood community, and hundreds of articles and broadcasts praising the movie and criticizing those who protested – the Christian community succeeded. It shows what we can be accomplished when we join together in a common effort.”
Wildmon, a United Methodist Minister, says it was hypocritical of MCA/Universal to defend the release of the movie as an exercise of First Amendment rights when they had put a “gag rule” in effect for their theater managers, forbidding them to speak about the movie to the media, and thus denying their own employees the same First Amendment rights they claimed to be protecting.
“AFA joined other Christian organizations – broadcasters, para-church ministries, denominations, etc. – in protesting the movie,” notes Wildmon. “The secular critics, and many Christian media, reported that the protest ensured success. ‘Christians should have said nothing about the movie,’ the critics said. ‘All the protest did was help ensure the movie’s success.’ But it didn’t happen.
“AFA distributed radio spots to about 900 Christian radio stations and most stations used the spots repeatedly. AFA also produced a television special which was shown on more than 50 Christian TV stations. Thousands of pastors in local churches called their people to action, and the members responded. Millions of Christians signed petitions and sent them to their local theaters, and hundreds of thousands of others called and wrote. Their efforts were successful.”
AFA expects that “Last Temptation” will be nominated for some Oscar awards. “That is one way Hollywood has of rewarding its own,” explains Wildmon. “Just remember that all the nominations and voting are done by people in the industry, people who for the most part want to help MCA/Universal save face.”