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The New Strategy Involving Churches That Could Revolutionize Hollywood


"We're going to bring out a movie once every quarter."

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013. Republican presidential hopefuls are hoping to impress conservative voters at the conference organized by an influential Christian group. The daylong event will be one of many candidate cattle calls in the grueling run-up to the 2016 presidential election. None of the potential contenders appearing Saturday has declared candidacy. Conservative voters could be key to a 2016 victory in Iowa's caucuses, the nation's first presidential nominating event. Credit: AP

Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator and 2012 GOP presidential candidate, has a plan that he believes could revolutionize the way faith-based feature films are distributed.

Santorum, CEO of EchoLight Studios, a faith-based movie company, told TheBlaze Wednesday about his company's new endeavor that seeks to partner with churches in distributing motion pictures.

Through the new EchoLight Cinemas platform, Santorum said that films will now be directly released through ticketed events at churches across America rather than at traditional movie theaters.

"These are actually ticketed events. They're theatrical releases in the church," he said. "We're changing the premiere of our films from a theatrical release to a [church] film release."

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gestures as he speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. on Friday, March 15, 2013. Credit: AP Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gestures as he speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. on Friday, March 15, 2013. (AP)

Houses of worship are invited to sign up on the EchoLight Cinemas website, where faith leaders will be authorized to show films at church locations during a two-month window. Churches aren't charged up front to show the films, though they pay EchoLight $5 for each ticket sold.

This dynamic gives pastors a number of options: they can sell tickets above that mark to make a profit, simply break even with $5 ticket sales — or, if they can afford to, buy out seats to offer free movie nights to their communities.

"There's no risk to the church. We're going to bring out a movie once every quarter," Santorum said, noting that there's no limit on the number of times movies can be shown within the designated premiere windows. "Our core market, our core demographic are folks who are Christians. What better place to premiere our movies than at the church?"

In addition to offering up family friendly entertainment at local houses of worship, Santorum believes that EchoLight is offering churches "tools to be relevant in the popular culture" and to be "engaged in the story telling" — two elements he said are essential in the modern era.

See a trailer for EchoLight's newest documentary, "One Generation Away," below:

Santorum said the company has partnered with about 150 churches since the effort launched two or three weeks ago and that EchoLight is on track to meet its initial goal of 300 faith communities.

And he believes the effort could also help other companies looking to expand their reach into faith markets.

"We're trying to create a system that is a more reliable system to create a pipeline for not just us, but one of the things we want to do is ... make it available for others to bring their movies into [it as well]," Santorum said. "Build an audience that's a reliable audience that can make movie making in this space profitable."

Learn more about EchoLight Cinemas here.

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