UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – The 21st annual Movieguide Awards will be presented tonight before an over-capacity, star-studded Faith and Values Awards Gala, with a WND live-stream beginning at 7:30 Eastern Time featuring red carpet arrivals and interviews.
Hosted this year by Joe Mantegna, starring in the CBS television series “Criminal Minds,” and his daughter, Gia Mantegna, the Movieguide Awards are attended yearly by the top studio heads and executives in Hollywood, honoring films with uplifting and family-appropriate messages.
Ted Baehr and his wife, Lili, created Movieguide in 1985, holding the first Movieguide Awards in 1991 with the aim of promoting family movies with strong moral and Christian content.
“Most people want good to triumph over evil, and all over the world people are looking for love, peace, and joy,” Baehr told WND in an interview. “Movieguide has been able to demonstrate to the heads of the major movie studios in Hollywood that movies of faith and values are also successful money-making movies, typically at the top of the box office revenue list year after year.”
Of this year’s semifinalists, 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney studios garnered the highest number of nominations in the Best Movies for Families category, with Fox having five semifinalists and Disney four. Magnolia Pictures’ documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” was a surprise nomination, completing the list of family films along with New Line’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and DreamWorks’ “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and “Rise of the Guardians.”
The Movieguide Awards honors two categories, the Ten Best Movies for Families and the Ten Best Movies for Mature Audiences. Both must exhibit moral values and/or a redemptive storyline. Any feature film can be nominated, regardless of box office gross or number of major stars. Movies rated G or PG are eligible for the “Family” category, while those rated PG-13 or R may be nominated in the “Mature” category.
This year’s semifinalists in the “Mature” category contain a number of big blockbusters such as “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” They’re lined up beside Academy Award nominees “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Les Misérables” and smaller-budget action films “Red Dawn,” “Red Tails” and “Act of Valor.”
“The Movieguide Awards are one of the only places where the greats of Hollywood walk side-by-side with the entertainment industry’s youngest and most promising newcomers,” said Baehr.
In the week before the gala, the two semifinalist lists are boiled down to 10 nominees each. Each of the nominees receives a special award, and one movie will be crowned as winner in each category.
The Movieguide Awards’ criteria make it the only show in Hollywood where many large-grossing, popular movies have a chance at winning an award. However, smaller movies have an equal chance. “Act of Valor” from Relativity Media and “Red Dawn” from Sony Pictures made less in the box office, but both are semifinalists for a Movieguide Award.
WND asked Baehr what message he wanted to send to the movie industry with the 21st Annual Awards ceremony.
“We want to encourage movie makers to open their eyes be committed to building faith and values in the next generation of children and grandchildren,” he said. “You will hear me encourage filmmakers that they are making movies for a purpose. We want people to make movies of faith and values that will last for an eternity.”
This year, Foster Friess and his wife, Lynn Friess, sponsor the Friess Free Enterprise Prize, an impressive addition to the Hollywood awards landscape.
Accompanied by $50,000, the Free Enterprise Prize awards the movie that “through fine craftsmanship and inspirational storytelling, does the most to encourage appreciation of free markets, ownership, and stewardship.”
Lynn and Foster Friess are well-known humanitarians, donating millions of dollars to aid organizations around the world.
Nominations for the Friess Free Enterprise Prize are “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Won’t Back Down.”
Faith & Values films make money
At each year’s Movieguide Awards, Baehr releases to the movie industry a much-anticipated and widely read “Report to the Entertainment Industry,” examining the economics of the movies made in the previous year, plus the changing demographics of movie-goers.
This year’s report documents the impact Movieguide has had on the film industry:
- 70 percent of the top 10 movies made in the year had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive, moral or biblical content or worldviews;
- 90 percent of the top 10 movies overseas had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive, biblical, moral or heroic (good conquering evil) worldviews, with all the top five being Movieguide Award winners;
- Nearly three-fourths of the Top 25 DVD sales in North America had strong or very strong Christian, biblical, moral and/or heroic content.
Movies released in 2012 with very strong Christian worldviews averaged nearly $90.78 million per movie by the end of 2012, while movies with very strong mixed, non-Christian or anti-Christian worldviews overall averaged $20.22 million.
Movies with very strong humanist or atheist worldviews did far worse, averaging only $2.4 million.
“We discovered that, once again, the most family-friendly movies and movies with the strongest positive redemptive content and worldviews make the most money, on average, of any other kind of movie,” Baehr wrote in the 2013 report. “Also, they made a ton more money than the worst films, the ones filled with graphic violence, explicit sex and nudity, sexual perversion, and false, anti-Christian worldviews, including those that promote atheism, and paganism.”
Movieguide has been analyzing movies in depth since 1985, using a comprehensive rating/scoring system that helps pinpoint which movies will succeed and why.
“To understand the economic viability of a movie, we look at its entertainment and artistic value and then beyond that at its production value, content, worldview, philosophy, theology, politics, economics, genre themes, and characters,” Baehr noted. “Through its analysis, Movieguide® has consistently chosen 25 percent to 40 percent of the winners at the box office, whereas other groups and critics have consistently chosen only zero to eight percent of the winners.”
This year’s Movieguide Award nominees include six of the top 10 movies in domestic box office: “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Skyfall” and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”
By comparison, none of the 2012 Best Picture Academy Award nominees is among the top 10 movies in domestic box office.
Movieguide’s semifinalists for Ten Best Movies for Families: “Chimpanzee,” “Cowgirls ‘N Angels,” “Chasing Mavericks,” “Frankenweenie,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” “Parental Guidance,” “Rise of the Guardians,” “The Secret World of Arrietty,” “Won’t Back Down” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”
Semifinalists for Ten Best Movies for Mature Audiences: “Act of Valor,” “Argo,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” “For Greater Glory,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Les Misérables,” “Lincoln,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Men in Black 3,” “Red Dawn,” “Red Tails,” “Skyfall,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Movieguide ranks each movie produced every year in at least 30 separate ways overall, including aesthetically, thematically, morally, biblically, cognitively, philosophically, politically and spiritually, in more than 150 different categories. Movie reviews are published on the Movieguide Internet website, at no cost via email, and in a monthly magazine sent to subscribers.