The top 10 US hit movie, Left Behind, starring Nicolas Cage, has been banned from being shown in UK churches, as part of a campaign to increase the evangelistic reach of Christian films by making them big box office hits in the UK.
Left Behind, scheduled to be released in the UK next month, is based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:37-41 concerning His second coming.
“We want to see films like Left Behind, with Christian themes, having success in the mainstream. This means Christians breaking out of their ‘holy huddles’ and going to the cinema – taking their non-Christian friends with them – rather than waiting for the DVD release so they can illegally watch them for free in their churches. The sad thing is that most churches are unaware that they are breaking the law when they screen our films,” says Left Behind’s distributor, Rev George Hargreaves (CEO of Kingdom Cinemas).
Whilst movies produced by the big Hollywood studios can be legitimately screened in churches, under the Church Video Licence scheme, most independently-produced Christian faith-based films, such as Left Behind, are not covered by the licence. As a result, church screenings can breach copyright law.
Rev Hargreaves believes the Church Video Licence scheme has enabled ministers to screen films in their churches and collect a contribution from their congregations, which does not benefit the movie producers or contribute to the box office takings. He said, “Why would a church minister encourage his or her congregation to go to the cinema, when they believe that they can legally wait a few months and show the movie ‘for free’ and raise funds for their church at the same time? Regarding Left Behind, we are bringing clarity to the situation, by announcing what is actually the legal status quo.”
Kingdom Cinemas has written to Christian Copyright Licensing International, the body that administers the Church Video Licence, asking them to inform all their licensees that Left Behind, as well as all other Kingdom Cinemas Limited film releases, are not covered by the licence.
The ban will be enforced in a biblical, Christian manner, in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17.
Left Behind opens in cinemas across the UK on 12 December, and will be part of the Cinema Pastors initiative.