Oh, boy, “about 2020.” We all remember 2020, and always will.
In the big picture of course, the effect of 2020 and the virus on films pales in comparison to the number of lives lost and changed from the virus and the impact on lives from it and the various reactions to it.
But, since this is a movie website, we’ll discuss the year in movies – and our ministry – let’s start with the ministry.
Christian Movie Central in 2020
We started 2020 with 58 Christian Movie Centrals in 25 states plus Washington DC. Our “online reach” (Social Media plus email subscriptions) was about 9700.
In January we set some pretty solid goals for the year.
1. 100 CMCs
2. All 50 States
3. Online Reach of 25,000
To be honest, these were a bit intimidating in good times, as we wanted to both grow the number while not diluting the average CMC size.
When Covid hit in March, we had multiple people asking if we were even going to keep going, or pack it in, and clearly we were not going to give up, and through the summer decided to look to grow during the lean times so we could be prepared for when theaters opened up – surely it could only be another few weeks, right?
Through the summer the first to open up was a blast from the past – DRIVE-INs! Social distancing is much easier when you don’t leave your car, just as we learned when going “out” to eat or even Covid testing itself – anyone else enjoy a q-tip tickling your brain from the comfort of your car?
Personally I got to have four surgeries in the fall – right wrist and elbow in August, and left wrist and elbow in September, each good for a Covid test!
Through this time, we picked up a CMC city here and there, as new cities has a film playing. We didn’t want to hit our goal just by blindly launching cities that might have to wait months for a Christian film.
On September 17, we launched Santa Fe, New Mexico – our 50th state!
The next month, October 8th, while sitting on 98 CMCs, we hit 101, with two in Kentucky – Louisville and Lexington, sandwiched around Quincy, Illinois (including Hannibal, MO, which falls not far south.)
Why did Quincy sneak in as the 100? Because we know how competitive folks in Kentucky can be, so figured might be best not to elevate one Louisville or Lexington over the other.
This brought us down to one formal goal – hitting 25,000 Online Reach.
Funds were getting tighter, so our Facebook ad investments were dropping, but we kept looking at the decreasing list of CMCs who had not seen any advertising love and those CMCs still under 100 (the greater of Likes or Follows).
In mid December, we crossed 25,000…. then 26,000… and ended up the year above 26,700 – a 175% increase, nearly triple the start of the year!
Along the way, we also saw our Average CMC size increase by more than 100 – from 136 to 237, and the SMALLEST CMC size, which had been in the 20’s for most of a decade, grew to be 101!
An incredible year, by any measure!
The Year in Movies
The big film of the year was I STILL BELIEVE, which opened in March as the number one film of Friday night… but by the next weekend nearly all theaters were shuttered!
In the Spring it came back as a popular Drive-In selection, as Hollywood pushed out many of their blockbusters and Drive-Ins sought newer films. In the Fall it came back strong in theaters – hitting over 100 theaters in its second wave, despite having been released to VOD in the spring!
Fathom Events – typically 1 or 2 nights – were hit hard by the virus as well, and even when they returned in the fall, many states were still shut down officially, or with capacity limit that caused some theaters to not offer many of their events.
One benefit of the fall delays in many films, is theaters were looking for programming, so films like TULSA and HEAVEN were able to have pretty successful independent distribution runs. (HEAVEN was even able to turn their fall 2020 success into a re-release on January 22, 2021, including many Cinemark theaters!)
I contacted one chain about having TULSA here in Peoria, and the next thing I know that chain had the film in most of their Midwest theaters, most for several weeks!
A final film I’ll give a shout out to is COUNTER COLUMN, which was filmed by local filmmakers around Lafayette, Indiana, and also benefited by having their film in a number of theaters around the Hoosier State!
The 2020 Line up
The films below are those which played or were played in theaters in 2020. Those with set dates but cancelled are shown crossed out.
1. Harriet (Carryover from 2019)
[Harriet on Amazon]
2. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Carryover from 2019)
[View A Beautiful Day… on Amazon]
3. Blind Eyes Opened (Fathom – Jan 23)
[Blind Eyes Opened – on Amazon]
4. The Red Sea Miracle Part 1 (Fathom – Feb 18)
5. Free Burma Rangers (Fathom – Feb 24, 25)
[Free Burma Rangers on Amazon]
6. I Still Believe (Opened March 13, crazy path to October!)
[I Still Believe on Amazon]
. I am Patrick (Mar 17, 18) Stupid Pandemic. Stupid Pandemic.
. Jesus – Sight & Sound Theaters (Apr 7, 9, 11)
. The Red Sea Miracle Part II (May 5)
Selfie Dad (June)
[Stream or DVD on Amazon]
7. Faustina: Love & Mercy Fathom Events Oct 5
8. Fatima [order Fatima on Amazon]
Movieguide . PluggedIn . Dove
10. INFIDEL (caution: Language & violence!
Included for portrayal of persecution but NOT sugar coated)
Movieguide . PluggedIn . Dove
Movieguide (NA) . PluggedIn . Dove
PluggedIn (NA) . Dove
13. NEVER AGAIN (Fathom Events)
14. COUNTER COLUMN (Indiana)
15. TWO CROWS (Fathom Events)
16. When we Last Spoke (Fathom Events
17. Against the Tide (Fathom Events)
18. Faith Under Fire