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5 Most Watched Christian Themed Movies Of All Time

Jun 09, 2014

Did you grow up watching Christian films? There weren’t as many widespread Christian movies in the 1980’s and 1990’s and most were either low budget and created specifically for teaching purposes. There are numerous Christian movies created in the past 10 to 15 years that I anticipate will become classics as they have opened doors for Christian film producers. These include Amazing Grace, Fireproof, Courageous, God’s Not Dead and Grace Unplugged. Many of my five most watched Christian themed movies of all time are older, so I think they will bring back fond memories.

Brief History of Christian Films

The first Christian films were produced in the 1940’s on 16mm film. They lacked budgets for marketing and sales, so most of these films were only shown in churches. Shooting and producing a film used to take years to complete. Even though there were a lot of great movies produced in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, there were fewer compared to what’s released today. Christian film libraries marketed the movies until they started going to the box office in the 1990’s. Ken Anderson was one of the earliest Christian film producers and key companies included Gospel Films and Christian Cinema. The industry has grown considerably and actors and actresses have an easier time focusing solely on God-centered projects.

5. The Passion of the Christ

When The Passion of the Christ came out in 2004 it made $30,000,000 in the box office. Mel Gibson directed the film depicting Christ’s last 12 hours, beginning in the Garden of Olives with Jesus praying for the Last Supper. The emotion of Jesus shown in this movie is incredible and allows viewers to connect to the meaning behind Jesus dying on the cross. John Debney composed many of the songs with various other musical talents, which helped create a powerful and moving story.

4. The Ten Commandments

As a classic film, The Ten Commandments seems low quality by today’s standards, but it carries a powerful message.  The Ten Commandments debuted in 1956, was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount Pictures. It focuses on the story of Moses being called to free the Israelites. Charlton Heston played Moses, Yul Brynner was Rameses and John Carradine played Aaron.

3. The Visual Bible: Acts

The Visual Bible: Acts came out in 1994 with Bruce Marchiano playing Jesus. It is setup with elderly Dr. Luke telling the story of what happened as stated in the book of Acts. Regardt van den Bergh and Joyce Marcarelli wrote the screenplay. Dean Jones played Luke, Henry O. Arnold played Saul and Paul and Andre Jacobs played John. The script follows the scripture word-for-word from the New International Version and followed The Visual Bible: Matthew, which was released in 1993.

2. The Gospel According to St. Matthew

This Jesus movie follows Christ’s life according to St. Matthew and came out in black and white in 1964. Enrique Irazoqui played Jesus and Pier Paolo Pasolini, an Italian film director, wrote and directed the film. Pasolini stated he decided to base the movie on the book of Matthew because, “John was too mystical, Mark too vulgar and Luke too sentimental.” What’s interesting is that Pasolini was a Marxist and a strong atheist.

1. The Jesus Film Project

Created in 1979, The Jesus Film Project is based on the gospel of Luke and portrays Jesus’ life from his birth through his death and resurrection. The movie has been shown translated in different languages and presented around the world.  Campus Crusade for Christ uses the film as a teaching tool and raises funds in order to continue translating it into different languages. So far, it has been shown throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Australia and Latin America.

The Christian media industry is now exploding with films both for teaching and for entertainment. Movies for children have also become quite popular, with Veggie Tales, Penguins!, Miss Parry Cake’s and Adventures in Odyssey. Who remembers the McFee and Me! television series, Animated Stories of the New Testament or Animated Stories of the Old Testament? Stars like Kevin Sorbo, Candace Cameron Bure, Kirk Cameron, Roma Downey and Tyler Perry have focused on Christian projects, bringing a new dynamic to quality Christian films.

Have you seen these other great older Christian movies? Ben-Hur, Color of the Cross, Genesis: Creation and the Flood, The Gospel of John, The Bible: Solomon, The Greatest Story or The Story of Jacob and Joseph. Some of these movies have been digitally remastered so the color quality is much better, but most are still available in their original format. What are your favorite older Christian themed movies?

Article by Elise Cleary

I am a Christian writer and editor that lives in northern Michigan and thoroughly enjoy music, movies, TV shows, books and other entertainment with a Christian focus. My favorite song is "Oceans" by Hillsong United because it reminds me that has big plans for me and everyone else who puts their trust in Him. There are many movies that have impacted my life, but a few include God's Not Dead, The Shunning and Letters to God. I also write for www.faithandentertainment.com and love connecting with readers, so please don't hesitate to contact me! When I'm not writing I enjoy watching movies and laughing with my busy toddler and husband. 

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