Roseville church buys out theater to show “Son of God”

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 - 12:07 am

A Roseville-based megachurch has joined a national movement promoting a new movie about the life of Jesus Christ.

Bayside Church bought out all 16 screens of a Rocklin multiplex Wednesday night for a private early showing of the feature film, “Son of God.”

Bayside is the only church in Northern California to participate in a national “theater takeover” by churches and religious groups for advance screenings of the film before it is released across the country on Friday.

“We’re always looking for ways to break down the walls between the church and the community,” said Curt Harlow, teaching pastor for Bayside Church, which has campuses in Sacramento, Folsom, Lincoln, Galt and Roseville.

“We hope to get some people to see this movie. We’re always looking for a reason to learn about Christ.”

Bayside Church, which has an average attendance of 14,000 at its weekend services, spent nearly $24,000 to buy all 2,446 seats at the Blue Oaks Century Theatres for the 7 p.m. showing Wednesday.

“We made all of it back in ticket sales,” said Matt Robertson, pastor of communications for Bayside Church.

“We were pretty sure that Baysiders would come through, and they did.”

All of the tickets, which were going for $10 to parishioners, sold out last weekend.

“We had buyouts before, but nothing like this, not on the same scale,” said Norris Eldridge, manager of Blue Oaks Century Theatres.

He said that other local groups bought out “Son of God” seats for one screen during the weekend, but not the entire theater, as Bayside did.

Bayside’s senior pastor, Ray Johnston, was inspired to promote the film when he met with Rick Warren, head of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, two weeks ago, according to Harlow.

The two producers of “Son of God” – Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett – were at Warren’s church at the time.

Downey is best known for her role as an angel on the TV series “Touched by An Angel.” Burnett is an Emmy award-winning producer of the reality shows “Survivor” and “The Voice.” The couple also produced the mini-series “The Bible,” which aired on the History Channel.

“After viewing the film and meeting Roma and Mark, I was so impressed and so moved that I had to get involved,” said Johnston.

“We bought all 16 screens at Blue Oaks theaters and probably should have done more. The story and message of Jesus Christ is powerful, and everyone needs to hear it.”

Harlow said that the film was one of the few movies that depicted the life of Jesus Christ realistically.

“From what we’ve seen, it’s more gritty and less Pollyanna-ish,” he said. “The people look like they lived in the time of Jesus instead of some Renaissance painting.”

Bayside Church decided to have the advance screening at Blue Oaks Century Theatres because it was close to its Roseville-based campus and its planned campus in Rocklin.

“It gives an opportunity for people to invite friends and neighbors to see a movie who normally wouldn’t go into a church,” said Robertson.

“We really don’t interact with our neighbors as much as we should. But if you go to a movie with your neighbors, especially to a movie that features the word of Christ, it will do some good.”

Bayside Church booked the movie theater for Wednesday, instead of Thursday like most churches elsewhere, because that is the day the church holds most of its programs. Several local movie theaters have scheduled public showings of the movie late Thursday night before Friday’s official opening.

Bayside Church leaders have created a spoof movie trailer for “The LEGO Movie,” which will be shown before “Son of God” Wednesday.

“You do not want to miss the preview before the movie,” said Harlow. “It spoofs a current movie and it’s supposed to be funny.”

Call The Bee’s Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.

Read more articles by Tillie Fong

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