Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

A Christian hero in Hollywood?

Media | Actor Chris Pratt sets lofty goals for new production company
by Marty VanDriel
Posted 2/14/20, 02:39 pm

Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt is a rare A-list Christian voice in Hollywood. He’s also made headlines in the past for wearing patriotic-themed T-shirts and expressing support for the military.

Pratt’s latest project, a production company he announced on Feb. 4, aims to “create entertaining content, focusing on themes which will help to bridge the growing divide in our country and world.” Pratt calls the company Indivisible Productions.

“You know, make the world a better place,” he said jokingly. “No biggie. You’re welcome.”

Pratt has used platforms like the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards to let his fans know, “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do!”

While accepting a Teen Choice Award in 2017, he was more explicit, saying, “I would not be here with the ease and grace I have in my heart without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Christian audiences have good reason to hope the new company will put out material they can appreciate. That said, Pratt also has shown a tendency to back away from Biblical teaching when challenged.

In 2019, lesbian actress Ellen Page criticized Pratt for being a member of Zoe Church, a Los Angeles congregation with ties to the Australian megachurch Hillsong. Page called Zoe “infamously anti-LGBTQ.”

Popular with other celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and the Kardashian family, Zoe’s lead pastor, Chad Veach, has shied away from answering questions on social issues, saying he prefers to avoid controversial subjects. But the church’s statement of faith affirms the Biblical definition of marriage.

“My faith is important to me, but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or any group of people,” Pratt responded to Page on his Instagram page, adding, “Everyone is entitled to love who they want free from the judgment of their fellow man.”

Despite Pratt’s distancing himself from Zoe’s official position, some industry watchers have greeted the announcement of his new venture with skepticism.

The movie news site Screen Rant called the name of Pratt’s production company, a reference to the Pledge of Allegiance, “divisive.”

“[Pratt] fails to realize he’s evoking one of the most controversial aspects of the Pledge of Allegiance,” Screen Rant critic Shawn DePasquale wrote, noting that Pratt used other phrases from the pledge in his Instagram post about the company. “The inclusion of the line ‘one nation, under God’ brings to mind endless debates on the appropriateness of ‘God’ being included in a pledge to a country that purports the separation of church and state,” DePasquale added.

It likely will be clearer what kind of influence Pratt hopes his new company will have on his industry when it begins acquiring and announcing film projects. This country—and especially Hollywood—needs all the bridge builders it can get.

Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Roberson Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Roberson Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve at spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday

A season of change

Major League Baseball kicked off spring training this week with a black eye that hasn’t healed. People are still talking about the recently revealed sign-stealing scheme by the Houston Astros during the 2017 season. Astros players Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman apologized publicly at a news conference Thursday with owner Jim Crane and new manager Dusty Baker.

Fallout from the scandal led to the firing of Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. The cheating involved a center field camera and a member of the team in a tunnel near the dugout who banged the side of a trash can to tip batters about upcoming pitches signaled by the opposing team’s catcher. So far, none of the Astros players have faced punishment. Many of them insist the cheating didn’t help that much. But the Astros won the World Series in 2017, so it didn’t hurt them, either.

Meanwhile, MLB finalized this year’s rule changes on Wednesday. This season, relief pitchers have to face at least three batters before they can be pulled from the game. The rule kills the practice of teams’ developing highly specialized relievers to pitch to just one batter in a game. Teams’ active roster will expand to 26 players from 25, and managers will have only 20 seconds instead of 30 after an umpire’s call to challenge it. —Lynde Langdon

Universal Studios Universal Studios Hilary Swank in The Hunt

All in the timing

Universal Pictures said it’s ready to release The Hunt, a movie it postponed last year over sensitivity concerns. After mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed 31 people in August, the studio decided it would be in poor taste to release the violent film in September. Descriptions of the movie say it’s about liberal elites who hunt “deplorables” for sport. But the latest trailer (warning: The clip includes graphic violence), which came out Tuesday, suggests the game could be fake news, and the real story is about why people believe it’s true.

“As anyone who has seen the movie can attest, it’s all so over the top and absurd,” producer Damon Lindelof told The New York Times. The Times described the film as “an absurdist satire that leaves no side of the political divide unscathed and is equal parts comedy, horror and thriller.” The new release date is set for March 13. —L.L.

Hakuna matata

Disney has stopped shaking its mane at a Berkeley, Calif., elementary school that showed the 2019 remake of The Lion King at a fundraising event without permission. “We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules,” Emerson Elementary PTA President David Rose told The Hill. After the event, which raised $800, the company Movie Licensing USA sent a notice to the school fining it $250. When Disney learned about the fine—and the public backlash that ensued—CEO Bob Iger said he wouldn’t enforce it. “Our company @WaltDisneyCo apologizes to the Emerson Elementary School PTA and I will personally donate to their fund raising initiative,” Iger tweeted. —L.L.

Comments

You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • LORRAINE FRITCH
    Posted: Sat, 02/15/2020 12:48 pm

    I'm surprised that Emerson Elementary School "had no idea we were breaking any rules" when they showed Disney's Lion King. Every DVD carries a warning at the start that it is for private, home use only. The school district where I was a librarian made sure that staff and PTA were aware of these kinds of copyright and licensing issues. 

     

     

     

     

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sun, 02/16/2020 03:46 pm

    True, but if you didn't read those warnings closely, it would be easy to think they only referred to unauthorized copying, since that's the main emphasis. Guess everyone gets a free lesson on copyright/licensing rules.

ADVERTISEMENT