The director of such faith-based hits as War Room and Courageous says Hollywood studios refused to distribute his latest movie, Lifemark, due to its pro-life message and its portrayal of the subject of abortion.
"They said, 'We're not releasing this one because we're scared of the response,'" Alex Kendrick told Christian Headlines.
Lifemark (PG), which releases in theaters for one week beginning Sept. 9, tells the story of an 18-year-old high school teenager, David, who is faced with a dilemma when his birth mother reaches out, wanting to meet him. The film follows his journey and that of his birth mother, Melissa, who had chosen adoption over abortion. It's based on a true story.
It stars Kirk Cameron, Rebecca Rogers, Raphael Ruggero, Dawn Long, Justin Sterner, Marisa Hampton and Kendrick.
Although Kendrick's past movies have had box office success -- War Room (2015) was the No. 1 movie in the U.S. on its second weekend of release -- studios shied away from Lifemark, he said. Kendrick is an executive producer and co-writer of Lifemark. Kevin Peeples directed it.
"It was interesting when we shot this film, several of the studios that have courted us in the past, and [have] wanted us to go with them as distributors, they all turned down this film," Kendrick told Christian Headlines. "... And so we said – it's okay, so we would go to a second and a third studio, and they all said, 'We want anything you got but this one.' Because they're saying this is such a touchy subject and a battleground. And we said, 'Well, we cannot be ashamed or afraid to share the truth regarding this subject, to share a true story.' It's hard to argue with a true story. And so we said, 'We're going to do this with grace, we're going to do this with love, but with truth.'"
The film is being released some two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Although the primary theme of Lifemark is adoption, it does reference abortion. One scene takes place at the site of a former abortion clinic.
Kendrick said it was important that the film told the story through the eyes of the birth parents and the adoptive parents.
"The reality of this theme in this issue is that it is a very sensitive topic. It's become a political battleground in our country," Kendrick said. "And we are acknowledging both sides, we're acknowledging the difficult decision to choose to place your baby for adoption, but it is the better decision. And we're also showing the adoptive parents and what a blessing and a joy – and the journey that they have to go through this.
"This whole path is not always easy. It is often difficult, but it is beautiful. And so this true story was a perfect example of showing how it could go – not to say it's always going to go this way, but how it could go."
Lifemark will be distributed in more than 1,400 theaters, Kendrick said. Fathom is the distributor.
"We think this is a beautiful picture of what it could look like to show compassion, to forgive, to minister and to give hope," Kendrick said.
Learn more at LifemarkMovie.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Fathom, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.