Valentine's Day celebrations boost business for flower shops, candy stores and romantic, candlelit restaurants. In 2015, the box office is also expected to enjoy increased sales on Feb. 14 as couples choose between the controversial "50 Shades of Grey" and the recently announced, faith-based "Old Fashioned."
Announced four days after the first trailer for "50 Shades" was released on YouTube, "Old Fashioned" will be a "love story that takes the idea of Godly romance seriously," the film's writer-director and lead actor, Rik Swartzwelder, told Variety. The film's studio, Freestyle Releasing, is known for the 2014 hit "God's Not Dead."
Swartzwelder portrays a reformed frat boy engaged in an old-fashioned courtship with actress Elizabeth Ann Roberts. His character "makes a commitment to not be alone with his intended until after marriage," Time magazine reported.
Although the "Old Fashioned" announcement was timed to take advantage of the buzz around "50 Shades," Swartzwelder said he's been working with the concept of faith-based relationships for years. He told Time that he wrote the screenplay for "Old Fashioned" a decade ago.
"(Although) the idea of an upstart response to mass interest in BDSM relationships makes for a fun meta-narrative, 'Old Fashioned' isn't actually a reaction to '50 Shades of Grey,'" Time reported. "It was a response to what its creators see as a culture that celebrates ideas like those in '50 Shades' but doesn't seem to create stable, romantic relationships."
"Old Fashioned" isn't expected to make much of a dent in the earnings of the higher-profile film, but Swartzwelder said his focus is on serving religious communities who don't agree with the "50 Shades" hype.
"There's definitely a David v. Goliath comparison. … They will have more screens, more money, more hype … but we're hopeful that we are not alone in our belief that there are others out there who desire more from love — and the movies — than objectification or domination," he told Variety.
Several articles have already addressed the need for Christians to think critically about the huge popularity of a film like "50 Shades of Grey." Christianity Today noted, "Less than a week after the clip went up on YouTube, [the trailer) became the most-viewed movie trailer of the year."
Christianity Today's article discussed the depiction of sex in "50 Shades": "While movies and books like '50 Shades' suggest that sex is power, we know a different truth: Love is power," wrote Kim Gaines Eckert, a psychologist and guest contributor.
The problem is that churches still aren't comfortable addressing sexuality, explained Laura Turner for Religion News Service.
"What I think churches and other faith communities need are places to safely and privately talk about sex," Turner wrote. "You don't have to see or read '50 Shades' to understand how the Christian conversation has fallen short, and you don't have to imitate it to have a good sex life."
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