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Spreading the good word on 'Machine Gun Preacher,' 'Dolphin Tale'

Marketers for both films are aiming for a broad market with a special focus on churchgoers. 'Machine Gun' also hopes to lure motorcycle clubs, and 'Dolphin' is reaching out to home-schooled children.

September 22, 2011|By John Horn, Los Angeles Times

In addition to pitching the film to veterans groups and disabled athletes, Alcon and Warner Bros. have pursued home-schooled children (Connick's daughter in the film studies at home), urging their parents to take them to the movie on Friday, and then discuss it following a curriculum guide. Nathan Clarkson of the Homeschool Movie Club urged his followers to "make a statement to Hollywood to rally behind movies that 'get it right' and tell great stories without all the junk, twaddle and moral compromise!"

Separately, the film's marketing team has crafted "Dolphin Tale" sermon ideas, circulating them to thousands of preachers. "The birds and the fish point to God as creator of all," one pulpit suggestion reads. "They demonstrate a unity in all creation, how God has set everything in motion.... In a suffering dolphin, [Sawyer] recognizes a beautiful animal created by God."

Alcon's Andrew Kosove said the strong reception for "The Blind Side" persuaded the company to back "Dolphin Tale." "Had we not had that success, we might not have made it," Kosove said. "No one makes these kind of movies anymore — the live-action family drama."

He said word-of-mouth recommendations from within specific communities, like a church, can carry more weight than other endorsements. "We're not in the business of making religious movies," Kosove said. "And 'Dolphin Tale' is not an overtly religious movie in any way, shape or form. But it is about the better aspects of human nature … a set of values that doesn't make it off-putting to people of faith."

john.horn@latimes.com

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