EchoLight Studios, the faith- and family-based production entity headed by self-professed Christian politician and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, said it will distribute four films a year starting in September 2014 then one a quarter after that. But here’s the twist: The films will be playing in churches throughout the country instead of theaters. One of those films is Hoovey, starring Patrick Warburton (Rules Of Engagement) and Lauren Holly — a true story about a Midwestern basketball family who, with God’s help, stayed in the game and won. The film is an unlikely candidate for the nation’s theaters to begin with, but there is a larger goal for Santorum, who is the CEO and not in politics any longer — to bring in flocks to the churches. “We want to be a part of empowering the church to elevate its role as a cultural change agent,” EchoLight President Studios Jeff Sheets said in a statement. “Our vision is not to create sermons wrapped in a movie but to create content that inspires, fascinates and incorporates a strong Christian worldview.”
Uh, that’s taking the faith-based craze to a different level — using churches as theaters. The Franklin, TN-based company is developing content with “strong ministry value as tools for the Church to use in their in-reach and outreach ministries.” They also said that a portion of the revenues generated from these films will “fuel the missional needs of the hosting local church.” So instead of the money going into Hollywood coffers, it’s going back to Santorum’s churches. And therein lies the business model.