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Right now, we are seeing a great surge in the production of faith-based movies in Hollywood. These films are being produced at a rate never before seen in history. The breakout success of the 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ” was a major catalyst. The movie far surpassed supporters and detractors, one of the biggest signals that there was a hunger for more Christian films in mainstream Hollywood and that they could have a place at the table. Each year, more and more faith-based films are being released.

The upsurge has a lot to do with smaller distributors producing what religious audiences really want. While some are just looking to cash in, the movies that have proved to be the most successful have come from an authentic place. Recently, faith-based films accounted for two of the weekend’s top ten movies at the domestic box office. “I Can Only Imagine” brought in $17.1 million its open weekend, the biggest debut from a film from Roadside Attractions and earned a remarkable $38.1 million from its first two weeks. “Paul, Apostle of Christ” followed behind at number eight. With more and more faith-based movies doing extraordinarily well in the box office, signs are pointing to a shift in Hollywood towards God. Here are six of them:

Faith-Based Movies Have Turned into a Multi-Billion-Dollar Business

“The Passion of the Christ” directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel was the most lucrative faith-based movie of all time, with a global box office exceeding $600 million against a $30 million budget. There has been a lot of buzz around the release of Passion of the Christ 2, pointing to a major hunger for well-produced films about Jesus. In an article in Yahoo News, “Movie theaters cash in as Hollywood turns to God,” Frankie Taggart writes, “Religion is reclaiming cinema for sacred purposes at a rate never seen in history, with faith-based movies exploding from an obscure cottage industry last century into a multi-billion-dollar business.”

Christian Films Are No Longer Being Dismissed

There was a time when major film producers would laugh at the idea of faith-based film being successful, but the major box-office success of movies like “Passion of the Christ,” “Miracles From Heaven,” “God’s Not Dead,” and “Heaven is For Real,” these films can’t be avoided anymore. Hollywood is rediscovering America’s love for Christian movies. Christian films are proving to be huge moneymakers for Hollywood studios, despite still being dismissed by many in the entertainment business as not part of mainstream Hollywood.

We’re Seeing More Christian Directors Rise to the Surface, And Find Success

Fed up with sex and violence in mainstream entertainment, conservative Christians are turning out their own films. Fireproof, staring former teen idol Kirk Cameron was the biggest grossing independent film the year of its release – it earned $33 million at the box office and cost only a half a million dollars to create. It was also all the talk of at the Independent Christian Film Festival. The crowd was markedly un-Hollywood, the men wearing jeans and Polo shirts, the women in high necklines and low hems. The festival organizer told the audience they were drawing a battle line in the culture wars.

“We’re here to send a message to the world that we no longer want out children immersed in toxic media which is in opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “Christina filmmaking is coming of age. Christian filmmaking is coming of age.”

These Films Are Incredibly Influential

Many godless and anti-God films have been produced in Hollywood since the start of cinema, and yet, these films continue to have incredible global influence. Just look at the numbers. Active Christians are trying to make a difference for Jesus in the box office – even if many of their efforts are independent films, not supported by any Hollywood studio.

These Films Are Changing Lives

There is an increasing hunger for faith-based films. Contrary to popular belief, faith is not death in the U.S. There is a real hunger for spiritual content. People not only want to learn about their faith, they also want to be entertained.

These Films Capture a Strong Message of Hope

The success of these films proves that there is an audience starving for these films. “People are tired of the violence and the sexuality in every television show and in every movie. People don’t want their kids watching that,” Christian actor Kevin Sorbo said in an interview with Beliefnet. “Nighttime tv now is nothing like nighttime TV growing up.” Sorbo and many other Christian actors believe that faith-based films capture a strong message of hope.

There are lots of Christian actors and filmmakers who support Christian values that are making better movies that people want to see. Movies today don’t have to be violent, dark or oversexualized to capture a large audience. It’s important to continue to support faith-based films to continue this trend.

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“The Miracle Season” tells the story of a volleyball team rocked by the tragic death of their captain and friend, Caroline “Line” Found, and their subsequent attempt to win the state championship in her honor. While the story of the team’s tragedy, grief, determination and success sound like the sort of picture perfect story Hollywood would create. The inspiring tale, however, is true. According to Caroline’s father, Dr. Ernie Found, Hollywood stayed “very true” to the actual story of Caroline and the West Side girl’s volleyball team.

“One of the reasons we went ahead and said it was okay to go ahead [and make the movie] was the trust we developed in the people who were going to be putting the movie together,” said Dr. Found. “It’s not a documentary, it’s a movie. They had to combine a couple emotions, a couple of players into one player, but for the most part the message they wanted to portray for the most part got across and their job is a tough one. They were asked to take four months of life’s highest and lowest emotions and put it into, what, 1 hour and 55 minutes?”

Though the movie turned out to be an excellent representation of the West High School’s most tragic and inspirational season, Dr. Found was not always certain that would be the case of a Hollywood portrayal. He admitted he was “fearful of what Hollywood could potentially do” with the story of the West High team, but he decided to move forward with the movie. “It was a 49-51 decision,” Dr. Found confessed. “As time went on, we kept thinking and reflecting on everything. There’s not been any real female sports team inspiration-type movies, at least recently, and it’s time for something like that to happen. There was the hope that this movie would empower young woman to be strong and rely on each other and commit to each other, and if that message can be carried through that’s something that Caroline would have liked to have gotten across. That’s what told us it was alright to try.”

Actually seeing his experiences and the experiences of Caroline’s team come to life on the silver screen was “a little overwhelming.” “It’s a little surreal,” Dr. Found said. “You kind of think about it and anticipate what it might be like but you can never really prepare for it. It took my breath away.”

During the filming of the movie, which required him to relive some of the worst moments of his life, Dr. Found fell back on what helped him get through the emotional roller coaster the first time: faith. “I felt comforted by all those who were involved in the movie,” Dr. Found said. “It was clear that they wanted to make this meaningful and do the best job they could. They kept saying they were so honored to be a part of this, and to me that comes from above and from others feeling their hearts try and direct them.”

When thinking back on how his faith helped him deal with the dual tragedies of Caroline’s accident and his wife’s death from cancer, Dr. Found said, “Faith is something that evolves. There are times of hardship when faith in whatever way one interprets that comes to the forefront, and when I think about faith for me during all of this, it was the love that was shared among family and friends. It was the reliance on each other. To me those are all offshoots of faith. Understanding that there aren’t answers to a lot of the questions we ask, and when difficult things come along you’ve got choices to make. Where you put your trust and where you put your heart is what faith is and that helps direct you.”

As for Caroline’s opinion on a movie about her and her team? “I think Caroline would be all for it,” Dr. Found said. “We sat around at Christmas time when the whole idea and concept of a movie was presenting itself, and we all kind of said, ‘What do you think Caroline would think about all this?’ And one of her teammates said, ‘What a movie about me? Hell, yeah!’…I think if it can help other people in some way shape or form make better decisions and move in a positive direction, she’d be all for it.”

The story of determination and overcoming grief promises to leave movie goers smiling and crying in equal measure as they watch the inspiring story of the girls who refused to let grief rule them and decided instead to “Live Like Line.”

“The Miracle Season” premiers in theaters Friday, April 6, 2018, and the trailer is currently available online.

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Alice Cooper was a rock star that everyone knew in the 70s. He was on top of the world.

As with most rock stars, the life Alice Cooper lived a party lifestyle that included a lot of heavy drinking. But when his friends began passing away at a young age, and he found himself throwing up blood, he began to reevaluate how he was living.

“Everything that could go wrong was shutting down inside of me,” Cooper told Confidential. “I was drinking with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and trying to keep up with Keith Moon and they all died at 27.”

Cooper didn’t keep everything perfect after he got sober in the 70s, he does admit. He had a relapse in 1981. He slipped when he had a bit of wine, that developed into a cocaine habit. A show in 1980 in Toronto was a casualty to his relapse after it was delayed for hours and eventually cancelled. Angry fans became uncontrollable and started a riot. At first the delay was blamed on customs, then on an asthma attack, but eventually rumors surfaced it was due to Cooper’s substance abuse.

Things continued to spiral out of control. After that tour he went home to start a family with his wife, and in May of 1981, they welcomed their daughter Calico. But despite the new addition, his drinking returned to a heavier state, until he was almost functioning like he was on autopilot.

In the fall of 1983, he was checked into the hospital by his family and given vitamins to boost his frail state. The doctors classified him as a “classic alcoholic.” He was then diagnosed with cirrhosis. After two and a half weeks he was told he could recover, if he gave up the drugs and alcohol permanently.

Upon leaving, he knew he had to go back to his roots and find Christ again.

“My wife and I are both Christian,” Cooper said. “My father was a pastor, my grandfather was an evangelist. I grew up in the church, went as far away as I could from it — almost died — and then came back to the church.”

Cooper has grown in his faith since that brush with death 37 years ago. Cooper does Bible study daily and goes to church every Sunday. He also proudly says that his three kids have never had any trouble with drugs or alcohol.

When Cooper was dabbling in addiction, he was also wrecked his marriage. His wife filed for Divorce and moved out with their daughter in late 1983, but the couple was able to reconcile in mid-1984 after Cooper had changed his ways.

With his new sobriety he was back on top and back on track thanks to his religion. Most people can’t understand the life of a rock star who’s also filled with the love of God. But he says differently.

“There’s nothing in Christianity that says I can’t be a rock star,” Cooper added. “People have a very warped view of Christianity. They think it’s all very precise and we never do wrong and we’re praying all day and we’re right-wing. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Today, Alice Cooper continues to stay strong in his sobriety and his faith. Cooper recently was introduced to a whole new generation of fans through is performance of King Herod in the NBC live version of the classic musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

This isn’t the first time Cooper has taken on the Herod role. He also tackled it in 2000 when “Superstar” writers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice asked him to record “King Herod’s Song” as part of a London cast recording.

Cooper’s inspiration for his performance is “Harry Potter” actor Alan Rickman.

“When I first heard about it, I thought Alan Rickman — that condescending sort of arrogant character, and I kind of fashioned what I would do after what I thought Alan Rickman would do if he were alive.”

2000px-Villanova_Wildcats_logo.svgMarch Madness has come to an end with the Villanova Wildcats standing as the NCAA champions for the second time in three seasons. Rather than basking in their glory, though, the players are glorifying God.

“Just coming from where I come from, I always dreamed it. I’m keeping my faith high and making sure that we do all the right things,” said Villanova forward Eric Paschall. “I just feel like we’re all blessed to be here at this atmosphere, being in San Antonio, being able to come down here. My mom shoots me texts every day. Just saying how blessed you are and how humble to be around this, so definitely…she shoots me Bible verses. If you go through my phone there’s a whole bunch. So she keeps my faith really high. It just keeps me level-headed you know. Just to know that there’s someone higher out there.”

Guard Mike Kennedy agreed and said that his faith kept him grounded during the “crazy ride” of the season. “I think faith has been a good driving force for that. In the grand scheme of things, this is an amazing event that we’re going to be remembered forever,” said Kennedy. “But it’s still a basketball game, just keeping faith always in mind always helps us keep perspective and keeps us humble and hungry.”

“Everything that happens to me is a blessing man,” said Villanova guard Omari Spellman. “And, I’m incredibly blessed to be here and, I can’t stress enough how blessed I am to be in the position that I am and that’s all a credit to God.”

Villanova bested the Michigan Wolverines 79 to 62 on Monday, April 2, 2018, to secure the championship. The Villanova Wildcats, however, are not the only ones speaking out about their faith following the championship game. Even in defeat, the players for Michigan focused on their faith.

Among those players using faith to keep events in perspective was Austin Hatch. Hatch has survived two plane crashes. The first cost him his mother, brother and sister in 2003. The second killed his father and step-mother in 2011 and left Hatch so severely injured that he was unable to walk. Following an extensive recovery, Hatch was able to return to the basketball court for a season and use his life to show his team that all things are possible through Christ.

“My faith has always been there. It’s always going to be there,” said Hatch. “It’s not going anywhere. And that’s one thing that I’ve been able to really, really lean on in the midst of all that I’ve lost. And you’d think that your family is always going to be there, hopefully, they always will be. I’ve had to learn that the hard way that unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone. But my faith will always be there man. Always.”