“The Shack” Movie Premiere Night For Fans

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“The Shack”, based on Wm. Paul Young’s New York Times best-selling book, opens in theatres nationwide on Friday, March 3rd. To celebrate the new film, the studio is offering fans an exclusive in-theatre experience, called ‘Movie Premiere Night.’ Taking place on Thursday night, March 2nd, moviegoers in cities around the country, will be the first to see “The Shack” in theatres, followed by a 20-minute video hosted by radio personality Delilah that features interviews with the movie’s cast, including Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help); Sam Worthington (Avatar, Hacksaw Ridge), Grammy Award winner Tim McGraw (The Blind Side), an acoustic performance by chart topping country duo Dan + Shay, and a conversation between Delilah and Wm. Paul Young. Hundreds of ‘Movie Premiere Night’ events will take place in major cities around the U.S. to kick off opening weekend, and many churches are buying out theaters.

Produced by world class filmmaker Gil Netter (Life of Pi and The Blind Side), “The Shack” trailer has been viewed by over 27 million people on Facebook alone.

“Premiere night is the perfect opportunity as a church to receive the message of ‘The Shack’ and then shepherd the message of forgiveness, love of God and healing to our communities,” said Pastor Sam Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “If you’ve ever been through something in life and asked God why, this message is for you.”

“Our prayerful and financial support of events like ‘The Shack’ premiere night help to ensure that God’s message is heard to the ends of the earth,” said Maureen Crowley Heil of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Archdiocese of Boston.

“People are REALLY excited about this movie,” said Paul Lauer, CEO & President at Motive Entertainment, which has been conducting leader screenings of ‘The Shack’ nationwide. “We are seeing amazing support from faith leaders of all denominations – in fact, over 1,300 endorsements can be seen at ‘The Shack’ connects with people no matter where they are in their faith-including those with no faith.”

What People Are Saying About “The Shack”:

“‘The Shack’ is a gift.”
– Dr. Jamal Bryant, Empowerment Temple, Baltimore


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Why Christians Now Rule Hollywood

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“It feels like we’re in a special moment that has never happened before in Hollywood where you have this many faith-based movies being released by not just independent filmmakers but now the big studios,” said Paul Lauer, founder and CEO of Motive Entertainment, the leading film marketing firm for reaching Christian audiences. “This Holy Week there will be four major feature films in theaters at the same time and that’s unprecedented.”

Lauer launched his firm a little over a decade ago with a plan to focus on targeting underserved religious audiences, unchartered territory at the time. Months after opening he was introduced to Mel Gibson who told him about a faith-inspired film he wanted to release. That film became the mega-hit Passion of the Christ. Motive Entertainment led the groundbreaking grassroots marketing campaign targeting Christians through churches and other non-traditional marketing venues that helped make Passion of the Christ, an independent film, one of the most successful films of all time.

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Marketing “Son of God” & Faith-Based Films to the Most Passionate Fanbase on the Planet

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It’s vital for key creatives to be members of the faith community, not only because they understand the target audience, but that they’re also trusted by that audience. Unlike other films, where the sole purpose is to entertain, faith-based films are utilized as tools to spread a message. As Downes explains, “The purpose of the art is to inform, inspire, reflect, and model behavior.” To be a success in the market, the film must portray life as it should be, not how it is. Downes says there’s good reason for this. “You’ve got plenty of examples of broken families in Hollywood movies, but very few reflect positive family values, so there’s a huge void.”

son of god mark burnett bibleTo this target audience, purpose trumps all. Paul Lauer, CEO of Motive Entertainment, the company behind the grass roots marketing campaigns for The Passion of the Christ and Son of God concurs. “They only get excited when it’s consistent with their values and beliefs. If it’s not then it doesn’t matter how much money was spent or how good the quality is.”

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Reclaiming Hollywood

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Paul Lauer has long had a passion for media and its power to shape the culture.

Named after the saint he calls “The Biblical Broadcaster,” Lauer – membership chair of Legatus’ newly minted Hollywood Chapter – sees his calling as broadcasting the gospel message using the modern means of communications.

These days, he does that principally as president of Motive Entertainment, which brings faith-friendly movies to the masses.

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Variety Purpose Summit: Family, Faith-Based, Full Steam Ahead

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Paul Lauer, Founder of Motive Entertainment, cut his teeth on the biggest faith-driven project of recent decades – The Passion of the Christ. Early in the process, he took Mel Gibson “on the road” to meet with religious leaders across the country. Gibson would show the clergymen some footage and solicit their input on how to improve the tiniest details of the project. He took it all under advisement and actually instituted many of the suggestions that were given. Years later, Lauer continues to adhere to the idea that “you still need to get the Rick Warrens of the world excited” – but he has expanded his outreach directly to the consumer. Lauer believes that “there is the right home for your film.” You may not know what that will be until you see the completed film, but “you have to find the people who are objective enough to help you figure out what the right home for that film will be.”

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5 Questions with Paul Lauer, President of Motive Marketing

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As the Founder and President of Motive Marketing, what advice would you offer to those thinking about starting their own business?

Focus your business on a UNIQUE product or service that will differentiate you from competition. For instance, if you’re going to be a lawyer, don’t just do “general” law, focus instead on some specific form or law – like patent law. As a specialist you will always have less competition and can charge higher fees.

What are the key elements of any successful grassroots campaign?

Connecting a product with people’s deeper causes and “motivations” (hence the name of our company, “Motive”). Traditional marketing like TV and print ads appeal to people’s “external” or superficial motivations, whereas grass roots marketing needs to tap people’s core values and motivations. It needs to go to people’s “roots” which is one reason it’s called grass ROOTS. When you make those connections with people – through personal communications, events, materials, education, and other tools – then they spread the message FOR THEIR SAKE (not yours); the “grass” multiplies and spreads on its own, and that’s what makes a campaign go viral.

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USA Today

By | Press, The Chronicles of Narnia: Lion, Witch & Wardrobe | No Comments

Disney, along with other studios, has often courted the so-called faith community when the appropriate movie comes along… But since The Passion, such wooing has become a science. For that reason, Disney and Walden have hired Motive Marketing, the company that oversaw The Passion’s outreach program.


Daily Variety

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The movie that couldn’t find a distributor a year ago is now poised to become this year’s first surprise hit.  “It’s one of the most talked about films since the first Star Wars prequel,” said Exhibitor Relations prez Paul Dergarabedian.

Yahoo News

By | Press, The Passion of the Christ | No Comments

Gibson Film Gets Huge Marketing Effort: The groundswell is stunning considering the once-dismal expectations for the film, which is in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic with English subtitles and is rated R for violence. It’s set to debut Feb 25 on 2,000 screens — an unusually large release for an independent religious film.

Headlines & Stats – The Passion of the Christ

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Passion KA – CHING: Devout auds drive stunning $20 million bow.”
– Daily Variety

“We have never experienced this level of interest in group sales,” said Regal Theaters VP Dick Westerling.
– Variety

“The film succeeded through Gibson’s brilliant marketing strategy.”
– Associated Press

“The Passion is rewriting box-office history.”
Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations, in Associated Press

Grossed $612 million in worldwide box office
#1 R-rated film in history
#1 independently distributed film in history
#1 February release in history
#1 5-day per screen average of $41,295


Los Angeles Times

By | Polar Express, Press | No Comments

As The Polar Express cruised into the top 10 movies of the year at the box office, executives at rival studios marveled…Within the industry, the odds against Polar Express succeeding seemed so long that one executive…made a bet that the movie wouldn’t get past $80 million. But Warner Bros. expects it to reach $170 million and possibly more. “We reached out in our group sales effort to schools, religious organizations and corporate groups,” said Warner Bros’ head of distribution, Dan Fellman.

By | Polar Express, Press | No Comments

Is The Polar Express an evangelical film? You’d certainly think so, considering the expansive campaign that Lauer unfurled in the Christian media this fall.



By | Press, Rocky Balboa | No Comments

“The film exceeded box office expectations.”

Rocky Balboa opened in the Number 1 slot.”
– Access Hollywood

“Like its odds-defying character, Rocky Balboa is the biggest surprise of the holiday season.”

“$146 Million worldwide box office”

Access Hollywood

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A sixth Rocky at 60? Everyone said, you’re kidding me! It’s going to be an embarrassment’. [The box office success] reestablishes him. Don’t count him out just yet. Just like Rocky, Stallone’s still got some power in his punch.



By | Expelled, Press | No Comments

Expelled Has ‘Robust’ Opening”
– Los Angeles Times

Expelled opens in the Top 10, and has #5 best per screen average.

Expelled is the 12th highest-grossing documentary in U.S. box office history.

Los Angeles Times

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Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed finished at No. 9 in its opening weekend, according to Expelled… fared better than prerelease tracking had signaled. Its opening was robust for a documentary… With production and marketing budgets in the single-digit millions, Expelled had the widest documentary release ever, the Times reported.

Los Angeles Times

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‘Expelled’ may defy low expectations 

“Expelled,” with production and marketing budgets in the single-digit millions, is expected to make no dent at the box-office…but it could dwarf forecasts. …Expelled faces an uphill fight in an industry that spends an estimated $117 million to produce and market the average big studio film, although as The Passion showed, the faith market can be a surprising force when mobilized. …Premise enlisted Motive Entertainment, the faith-based specialist that helped market The Passion, in a grass-roots effort that is drawing as much fire as the film itself.

NPR’s Marketplace

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…Ben Stein traveled across the country on a bright red bus for “Expelled, the Road Show.” This is mostly the work of Motive Marketing’s Paul Lauer. He’s the guy who made Passion into a phenomenon by harnessing the power of this country’s 160 million Christians. Not the traditional Hollywood way. Lauer went directly to leaders in religious communities and showed them Expelled.

By | Expelled, Press | No Comments

So what does a movie marketing company do for an encore after helping spread the word about The Passion of the Christ, The Polar Express and The Chronicles of Narnia? Well, after second-tier efforts for United 93 and Rocky Balboa, Motive Entertainment is returning to its Mel Gibson roots with the Ben Stein documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. If anyone can make this contentious bit of non-fiction fly…it’s Motive Entertainment.