How a faith-based movie studio is seizing the moment in Trump’s America

A decade ago, Pure Flix was a fledgling production company carving out a niche — wholesome Christian entertainment — on the fringes of the Hollywood mainstream. It toiled in virtual obscurity, quietly releasing a string of low-budget Biblical tales like “The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith” and “Apostle Peter and the Last Supper.”

But with “God’s Not Dead,” Pure Flix came alive.

The pointed drama, released in early 2014, centers on an evangelical college student who stands up to his stridently atheistic professor. It grossed more than $60 million domestically — not exactly a runaway blockbuster, but a healthy profit for a project that cost a mere $2 million. It would become one of the top 10 highest-grossing Christian-themed movies of all time.

David A.R. White and Benjamin Onyango in God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness.
David A.R. White and Benjamin Onyango in “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness.”Pure Flix

Since then, Pure Flix, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, has evolved into a small-scale media empire, churning out Christ-centered movies (including two sequels to “God’s Not Dead”) and chipper sitcoms, as well as a home-schooling curriculum for families. It has risen to prominence as the American entertainment landscape has become increasingly fragmented, making it easier for upstart players to go after niche or underserved viewers.

PureFlix.com, its on-demand streaming service, attracts more than 125,000 subscribers who pay $10.99 a month. It features around 10,000 pieces of exclusive and licensed videos, from Billy Graham sermons to an original drama series co-starring Antonio Sabato Jr., the model-turned-actor who spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

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