Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the honor of interviewing Dr. Ted Baehr. Not only has Dr. Baehr penned many books, but he is the founder of the popular and influential Movieguide® review service, which is having a surprisingly positive effect on Hollywood. Check out the statistics in the final question below!
Ted, how did you get into writing?
When I was the president of the company that produced THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE for CBS Television in 1979 and 1980 that had 37 million viewers and won an Emmy Award, Roy Carlisle from Harper & Row called and offered me a contract to write GETTING THE WORD OUT. I had, of course, written booklets and other materials for years, but that contract changed my publishing.
How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
I have written and contributed to over 35 books, including How To Succeed In Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul) (WND, 2011), Amazing Grace Of Freedom (New Leaf, 2007), Culture-Wise Family (Regal, 2007), and Narnia Beckons (Broadman & Holman, 2005).
What has helped you promote your books the most?
Movie tie-ins and internet and radio publicity.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book? Did those mistakes cause you to change? If so, how?
Harper did a great job, but I assumed that they would do everything. Now, I do much more to promote my books.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
Movie and educational connections. Several books were connected to Hollywood movies.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Every contract was a miracle. Every interview was a miracle. Every sale was a miracle.
Now that you have been writing a while, what do you find works best for you in promoting your work and why?
Strenuous internet push, especially on Movieguide®.
Also, Movieguide® is the biggest faith-based and almost the biggest family review service, which is why the Reelz TV broadcasts the Gala and the short-form Movieguide® program. Reelz TV came to us after looking at the numbers. The average age of people going to most faith-based sites is 55; our readers average 34 years old with a tremendous growth in 12 to 24 year olds.
We grew 400% in three years. We are many times bigger than other sites, because people come to us thinking we are just the most thorough movie review site, whereas we are teaching in all that we do.
We have 2.5 million fans on Facebook across all our platforms. We have a Tuesday DVD newsletter and a Friday new-in-theaters newsletter. We also have a short-form radio program that recently was independently audited to have over 20 million monthly. And we have a TV show syndicated on secular and faith and family networks.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Everything is about prayer. Everything is about sales. It is both/and.
Tell us about Movieguide®.
Movieguide®, the family guide to movies and entertainment founded by Christian leader Dr. Ted Baehr, is approaching its 30th year of redeeming the values of Hollywood, the center of the world’s mass media of entertainment.
Back in 1985 when Movieguide® began, there were, at the most, only one or two major animated movies for families. This year, there are more than 18 such movies. Also, in 1985, 46.7 percent of the movies released theatrically were R-rated, but in 2013, only 31.1 percent of the theatrical releases were rated R.
Back in 1985, only about 1.5 percent of the movies released contained at least some positive Christian, redemptive content. In eight years, that percentage would climb to 10.38 percent, and by 2009 the percentage was climbing regularly past 56 percent and even past 60 percent.
Meanwhile, Hollywood is set to release more biblical and faith-based movies in the next few years than at any time since the 1950s.
Why is this happening?
Because, for more than 20 years, Movieguide® has been meeting with and showing Hollywood executives, producers, writers, and directors that family-friendly movies with strong Christian, redemptive content earn three to seven times as much money as movies with strong non-Christian, or even anti-Christian content, with explicit sex, nudity, gory violence, substance abuse, and other immoral content.
In fact, since Movieguide® began the Epiphany Prizes for Inspiring Movies & TV Programs with strong Christian, redemptive content in 1996, the average earnings of movies with very strong Christian, redemptive content or worldviews has grown from only $21.14 million per movie in 1995 to more than $80 million in 2013! And that only represents what such movies earned in the United States and Canada. It doesn’t include what they earned overseas or on home video.
For example, LES MISERABLES, the $100,000 Epiphany Prize winner for 2012, has earned $148.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, but $293 million overseas and $29.3 million in DVD sales.
In comparison to the U.S. and Canadian figures above ($80.07 million on average in 2013, $148.8 million for LES MIS, $291 million for MAN OF STEEL, where Superman went to a Christian Church to get advice, and $91.4 million for this year’s HEAVEN IS FOR REAL), movies with very strong non-Christian or anti-Christian worldviews averaged only $21.64 million at the box office in 2013.
Furthermore, 2013 movies with very strong violence averaged only $30.18 million in the U.S. and Canada, while movies with explicit full nudity averaged $31.6 million, movies with more than 25 obscenities and profanities averaged $30.2 million, movies with extreme sexual content averaged only $17.85 million, and R-rated movies averaged only $21.34 million.
In the past 10 years, movies with very strong Christian, redemptive worldviews averaged $74.89 million per movie in North America. In the last five years, however, such movies averaged at least $86.63 million.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America, Hollywood spends up to $100 million or more producing, distributing, and marketing the average movie. The annual budget for Movieguide®, however, is only about $2.5 million.
These numbers don’t lie. Neither do the ratings numbers for such faith and family friendly television programs as The History Channel’s recent BIBLE miniseries, or A&E’s popular DUCK DYNASTY program.
In fact, in 2013, THE BIBLE miniseries was viewed by more than 100 million people overall. Multiplying those people by last year’s average ticket price in the USA, $7.84, results in a total potential earnings figure of $784 million!
Clearly, the impact and cost effectiveness of Movieguide® and its efforts to reach Hollywood filmmakers through its Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry, personal meetings, and other activities and projects is inescapable and incredibly striking.
Impressive! Thank you for sharing this with us, Ted! It’s great to see that morality actually pays.
To learn more about Ted, his books, and his work, please visit Movieguide.
Writing for Him,