A film about the origins of what became known as the ‘Jesus movement’ in the west coast of the United States in the late 1960s and 1970s has exceeded box office expectations, after opening last weekend.
Called the "Jesus Revolution," it’s a film about how members of the movement, known as Jesus people, or Jesus freaks, came to faith in Christ at a "little country church" in Costa Mesa, California.
Producers Lionsgate say the film was forecast to earn around $6 million to $7 million in ticket sales but succeeded in grossing $15 million from the weekend, putting them in third place for openings.
Produced by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin, it explores how Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel, saw his ministry take off and grow after being open to receive long-haired hippies into his church. He is played by star of television series, Frasier, Kelsey Grammer.
‘In the 1970s, Greg Laurie and a sea of young people descend on sunny Southern California to redefine truth through all means of liberation’, the official synopsis reads. “Inadvertently, Laurie meets a charismatic street preacher and a pastor who open the doors to a church to a stream of wandering youth'.
'What unfolds is a counterculture movement that becomes the greatest spiritual awakening in American history'.
The film has also garnered strong reviews in favour, with Dennis Harvey of Variety writing “One of the most appealing faith-based big-screen entertainments in a while, polished and persuasive without getting too preachy.”
Common Sense Media’s Tara McNamara wrote: “This drama is almost certain to energize and inspire the Christian crowd, but it's also likely to captivate those who tend to avoid films about religion. That's both because it's very well made and because there's an honesty and accountability here.”
And Asher Luberto in L.A. Weekly, assessed: “Though most people don't want a Bible lesson, especially if they didn't ask for one, the new faith-based film is a step in the right direction.”
But is the film coming to the U.K? At the moment, there are no plans to do so, which has disappointed Bill Hampson, Christian rock concert organiser during the mid-1970s and ‘80s, who toured Europe with Christian ‘Jesus Movement’ headline acts like Larry Norman, Second Chapter of Acts and Barry McGuire.
Bill Hampson from Warrington told Premier Christian News: “I’m sure it would get an audience”.
“The Jesus movement from California changed people’s lives and their outlook on everything. It gave rise to what became known as Contemporary Christian Music in the UK and beyond. Before that, Christian record labels used to produce choral music and the like. But here was something new emerging in the UK.
“We’ve just passed 50 years of Greenbelt, which was inspired by the stories found in the Jesus Revolution film. We can say Chuck Smith’s legacy is still around today.”