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The Christian film industry is an aspect of Christian media for films containing a Christian-themed message or moral. They are often interdenominational films, but can also be films targeting a specific denomination of Christianity.
Popular mainstream studio productions of films with strong Christian messages or Biblical stories, such as Ben-Hur , The Ten Commandments , The Prince of Egypt , The Robe , Sergeant York , The Blind Side , The Book of Eli ,  Machine Gun Preacher , Risen , Hacksaw Ridge , and Silence , are not specifically part of the Christian film industry, being more agnostic about their audiences' religious beliefs. These films generally also have a much higher budget, production values and better known film stars, and are received more favourably with film critics.
Many films from the Christian film industry are produced by openly confessing Christians in independent companies mainly targeting a Christian audience. This has been on the rise since the success of Sherwood Pictures whose Fireproof was the highest grossing independent film of 2008. 
Catholic priest Athanasius Kircher promoted the magic lantern by publishing the book Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae in 1680.  Controversy soon followed as priests and masons used the lanterns "to persuade followers of their ability to control both the forces of darkness and enlightenment" and temperance groups used the lanterns to fight alcoholism.  In the 1800s, missionaries such as David Livingstone used the lanterns to present the Gospel in Africa. 
Through the years, many Christians began to utilize motion picture for their own purposes.  In 1899, Herbert Booth, as part of the Salvation Army, claimed to be the first user of film for the cause of Christianity. 
In the 1940s, Christian film libraries emerged. Harvey W. Marks started the Visual Aid Center in 1945. Circa 1968, Harry Bristow launched Christian Cinema in a small theater in the Germantown area of Philadelphia, and in the early 1970s, the ministry moved to a theater in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Christian Cinema operated a movie theater that showed only Christian films, but closed down in the mid-1990s. The growth of Christian film libraries led to the Christian Film Distributors Association (CFDA) being formed in 1974. The CFDA began holding a conference each year for Christian filmmakers and distributors. The Christian Film and Video Association (formerly the Christian Film Distribution Association) gave out Crown Awards for films that "glorify Jesus Christ." 
The 1971 Christsploitation film If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? was based on a sermon by Estus Pirkle held on January 31, 1968 at Camp Zion in Myrtle with the title "If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?". The sermon was made available by print, and Estus W. Pirkle joined with filmmaker Ron Ormond in their first collaboration, and converted the sermon into a film. The pair made a number of other films, but this first film is the team's most well-known. The film became widely distributed among churches and church camps in the 1970s.  
Since The Great Commandment opened in movie theaters in 1941, many Christian filmmakers have attempted to pursue theatrical releases. World Wide Pictures was a pioneer in partnering with churches to bring Christian films to the cinema. Gateway Films (now Gateway Films/Vision Video) was "formed with the express purpose of communicating the Christian Gospel in the secular motion picture theaters" and released The Cross and the Switchblade in 1972. In 1979, the Jesus film appeared in theaters across the United States. This film, based on the Gospel of Luke, was made for $6 million by Campus Crusade for Christ. 
In 1993, Tom Saab launched the Merrimack Valley Christian Film Festival in Salem, New Hampshire. Each year this festival is held during Easter week and draws an audience of thousands to a theater to watch Christian films for free. Saab's organization Christian Film Festivals of America has also presented film festivals in Salinas, California and Orlando, Florida. In October 1999, the Voice of Pentecost Church in San Francisco hosted the 1st Annual WYSIWYG Film Festival. Other Christian film festivals include San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, 168 Hour Film Project, and the Redemptive Film Festival.
Many Christian films have been released to theaters since that time, such as The Omega Code (1999), Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001), Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002), Facing the Giants (2006), The Ultimate Gift (2007), Amazing Grace (2007), Fireproof (2008), The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (2008), The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (2009), To Save a Life (2010), Preacher's Kid (2010), Letters to God (2010), What If... (2010), The Grace Card (2011), Courageous (2011), October Baby (2012), Last Ounce of Courage (2012), Home Run (2013), Grace Unplugged (2013), I'm in Love with a Church Girl (2013), Son of God (2014), God's Not Dead (2014), Persecuted (2014), Old Fashioned (2015), Do You Believe? (2015), War Room (2015), Beyond the Mask (2015), I’m Not Ashamed (2016), I Can Only Imagine (2018), Breakthrough (2019), and Overcomer (2019).
In 2006, nearly 50 Christian-faith films were produced. The films grossed an average $39 million. All five of the major Hollywood studios have created marketing departments to target the growing demand for faith-based and family fare. Movieguide publisher Ted Baehr said, "There is competition for the Christian audience now that there hasn't been before. I thought at some point it would level off, but so far it's getting bigger and bigger. It's more than I could have possibly imagined. One of the audiences that has become stable and even grown for books, music and movies is the Christian audience." 
The proliferation of Christian movies and Christian films has led to the establishment of many online retailers that focus their business exclusively on the sale and distribution of Christian movies online and family-friendly films such as Parables.tv, Exploration Films based in Monument, Colorado, FishFlix.com, ChristianCinema.com and ChristianMovies.com. Parables TV also provides streaming and linear TV. In 2013, FishFlix.com opened the first ever DVD store devoted completely to Christian DVDs in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
The 2014 film God's Not Dead is one of the all-time most successful independent Christian films  and the 2015 film War Room became a box office number-one film. 
Following is a list of highest-grossing Christian films of 2004–present, including only those films with overt Christian themes explicitly promoting The Gospel or an otherwise Christian message and targeted primarily at Evangelical Christian audiences. Grosses presented here are worldwide box office receipts.
|Rank||Title||Distributor||Worldwide Box Office||Domestic Opening Weekend||Year||References|
|1||The Passion of the Christ||Icon Productions||$622.3 million||$83.8 million||2004|||
|2||Heaven Is for Real||Sony Pictures||$101.3 million||$22.5 million||2014|||
|3||The Shack||Lionsgate||$96.9 million||$16.2 million||2017|||
|4||I Can Only Imagine||Roadside Attractions||$86 million||$17.1 million||2018|||
|5||War Room||Sony Pictures||$74 million||$11.4 million||2015|||
|6||Miracles from Heaven||Sony Pictures||$73.9 million||$14.8 million||2016|||
|7||Son of God||Twentieth Century Fox||$70.95 million||$25.6 million||2014|||
|8||God's Not Dead||Freestyle Releasing||$64.7 million||$9.2 million||2014|||
|9||The Star||Sony Pictures||$62.8 million||$9.8 million||2017|||
|10||Breakthrough||Twentieth Century Fox||$50.4 million||$11.3 million||2019|||
Faith-based, family-values films are popular in South Africa due to its predominantly Christian audience including Faith Like Potatoes , a 2006 biopic of farmer-turned-preacher  Angus Buchan. 
Nigerian Christians are actively contributing to the booming Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood. Christian films makes up about 20% of Nigerian films. Independent companies, ministries, and large churches producing hundreds of Christian films often see themselves as an alternative to Nollywood. Nevertheless, they have participated in mainstream success and many of the films appear on state television channels. 
The Redeemed Christian Church of God founded Dove Studios, which has become the country's biggest movie studio and distributor.  More than 50,000 copies of their movies were sold before April 2006.  The Gospel Film Festival (GOFESTIVAL) is also a major Nigerian film attraction. 
The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film produced, directed and co-written by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus of Nazareth, Maia Morgenstern as Mary, mother of Jesus, and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It also draws on pious accounts such as the Friday of Sorrows, along with other devotional writings, such as the reputed visions attributed to Anne Catherine Emmerich.
The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking, i.e., film production companies, film studios, cinematography, animation, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, distribution, and actors. Though the expense involved in making films almost immediately led film production to concentrate under the auspices of standing production companies, advances in affordable filmmaking equipment, as well as an expansion of opportunities to acquire investment capital from outside the film industry itself, have allowed independent film production to evolve.
Mormon cinema usually refers to films with themes relevant to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term has also been used to refer to films that do not necessarily reflect Mormon themes but have been made by Mormon filmmakers. Films within the realm of Mormon cinema may be distinguished from institutional films produced by the LDS Church, such as Legacy and Testaments, which are made for instructional or proselyting purposes and are non-commercial. Mormon cinema is produced mainly for the purposes of entertainment and potential financial success.
The Gospel is a 2005 American Christian drama film directed and written by Rob Hardy. It was released in the United States by Screen Gems on October 7, 2005. The film retells the Parable of the Prodigal Son in a modern context.
Alexander Kendrick is an American pastor, film writer, producer, director and actor, best known for directing and starring in notable faith-based films, including Facing The Giants, War Room, Overcomer, Courageous, and Fireproof. He is one of only two film directors to have three different films receive an "A+" grade on CinemaScore.
Fireproof is a 2008 American Christian drama film released by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Affirm Films, directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Stephen Kendrick. The film stars Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea and Ken Bevel.
CinemaScore is a market research firm based in Las Vegas. It surveys film audiences to rate their viewing experiences with letter grades, reports the results, and forecasts box office receipts based on the data.
C Me Dance is a 2009 American Christian thriller film, written and directed by Greg Robbins. It was produced by Uplifting Entertainment, distributed by Freestyle Releasing, and was released on April 3, 2009. It has been endorsed by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The Dove Foundation. It has had songs written by Lincoln Brewster, Eowyn, Stephanie Fraschetti and Terri Shamar.
Letters to God is a 2010 American Christian drama film directed by David Nixon and starring Robyn Lively, Jeffrey Johnson, Tanner Maguire, Michael Bolten and Bailee Madison. The story was written by Patrick Doughtie about his son Tyler, with the screenplay penned by Doughtie, Art D'Alessandro, Sandra Thrift and Cullen Douglas. The story took place in Nashville, Tennessee, but the movie was filmed in the Orlando, Florida area.
Courageous is a 2011 American independent Christian drama film directed by Alex Kendrick and written by Kendrick with his brother Stephen Kendrick. It is the fourth film by Sherwood Pictures, the creators of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Filming in Albany, Georgia concluded in June 2010. The film was marketed by Sony's Provident Films, which also marketed their previous films.
Heaven Is for Real is a 2014 American Christian drama film written and directed by Randall Wallace and co-written by Christopher Parker, based on Pastor Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent's 2010 book of the same name. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Connor Corum, Margo Martindale, and Thomas Haden Church.
God's Not Dead is a 2014 American Christian drama film directed by Harold Cronk and starring Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A. R. White, and Dean Cain. The film was released theatrically on March 21, 2014, by Pure Flix Entertainment.
War Room is a 2015 American Christian drama film directed by Alex Kendrick and written by him and Stephen Kendrick. It is the Kendrick brothers' fifth film and their first through their subsidiary, Kendrick Brothers Productions. The film was produced by Provident Films, Affirm Films and TriStar Pictures in partnership with the Kendrick brothers.
God's Not Dead 2 is a 2016 American Christian drama film, directed by Harold Cronk, and starring Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe, David A. R. White, Hayley Orrantia and Sadie Robertson. It is a sequel to God's Not Dead (2014), and the second installment in the titular film series. Aside from David A.R. White reprising his role as Reverend David Hill, Paul Kwo, Benjamin Onyango, and Tricha LaFache also reprise their roles as Martin Yip, Reverend Jude, and Amy Ryan respectively. It follows a high school teacher facing a court case that could end her career, after having answered a student's seemingly innocuous question about Jesus. The film presents an evangelical perspective on the separation of church and state.
Pinnacle Peak Pictures is an American evangelical Christian film production and distribution studio founded by David A. R. White and Russell Wolfe. Pinnacle Peak produces Christian films, including God's Not Dead (2014), Do You Believe? (2015), Woodlawn (2015), The Case for Christ (2017), and Unplanned (2019). Since 2014, films produced and distributed by Pure Flix have collectively grossed over $195 million at the worldwide box office. The company has headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I Can Only Imagine is a 2018 American Christian biographical drama film directed by the Erwin Brothers and written by Alex Cramer, Jon Erwin, and Brent McCorkle, based on the story behind the group MercyMe's song of the same name, the best-selling Christian single of all time. The film stars J. Michael Finley as Bart Millard, the lead singer who wrote the song about his relationship with his father. Madeline Carroll, Trace Adkins, Priscilla Shirer, and Cloris Leachman also star.
God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is a 2018 American Christian drama film written and directed by Michael Mason. It is a sequel to God's Not Dead 2: He's Surely Alive, and the third installment overall in the God's Not Dead film series. It stars David A. R. White, John Corbett, Shane Harper, Benjamin Onyango, Ted McGinley, Jennifer Taylor, Tatum O'Neal, Shwayze and Cissy Houston.
I Still Believe is a 2020 American Christian romantic drama film directed by the Erwin brothers and starring KJ Apa, Britt Robertson, Shania Twain, Melissa Roxburgh, and Gary Sinise. It is based on the life of American contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly before they married. Camp's song "I Still Believe" is the film's namesake.
Dallas Jenkins is an American film and television director, writer and film producer. He is best known as the creator, director and co-writer of The Chosen, the first multi-season series about the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Show Me the Father is a 2021 American Christian documentary film by director Rick Altizer, presenting five fatherhood-related stories connected with commentary by Tony Evans, produced by Mark Miller and executive produced by the Kendrick brothers. It is the Kendrick brothers' seventh film and their third through their subsidiary, Kendrick Brothers Productions. It was theatrically released on September 10, 2021.