Six years ago, Jonathan Bock was working in Warner Bros.’ publicity department when he realized its latest release, The Green Mile, was chock-full of holiness. Preach to the largely ignored network of more than 125 million weekly churchgoers, reasoned the 35-year-old (now a Presbyterian deacon), and you’d suddenly be bringing them into the theater by the multitude.
So Bock, who’d been a sitcom writer in a previous incarnation, left Warner, reborn (again) as flack with a soul patch. His Grace Hill Media has pitched more than 80 films for the studios, targeting thousands of churches and nationwide ministries, from the Promise Keepers to Christian bloggers. To get pastors to steer their flocks to the multiplex, Bock woos the Christian press to meet with filmmakers, organizes screenings, and creates Bible study guides. All of which, analysts say, can sell $50 million in extra tickets and millions more copies of a DVD. “To not recognize [churchgoers] as a massive demographic is just bad business,” Bock says. “It would be like not tracking men.” With Americans clocking in at 81% Christian, we can only say, “amen.”