Candace Cameron Bure, who is facing backlash after she said her Great American Family movies will focus on “traditional marriage,” is on a mission to put Christ back in Christmas films.
For over a decade, the 47-year-old actress was the face of the Hallmark Channel’s popular holiday films, even earning the moniker the “Queen of Christmas.” During her time on the network, Bure starred in 30 movies, 10 of which were holiday titles.
Therefore, it came as a surprise when the “Full House” alum announced last April that she was leaving Hallmark Media to develop, produce and star in projects for the new traditional-family-oriented network Great American Family.
“My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them,” Bure, who is now Great American Family’s chief creative officer, explained in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Bure, a devout Christian, added, “I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.”
During her interview with WSJ, Bure was also asked if her new channel will feature any LGBTQ storylines, Bure said no. “I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core,” she said. Her comments about not featuring same-sex couples in her films have been met with criticism.
However, the chief executive of Great American Media and original creator of the Hallmark Channel noted that there isn’t a set plan. “It’s certainly the year 2022, so we’re aware of the trends,” Bill Abbott told the outlet. “There’s no whiteboard that says, ‘Yes, this’ or ‘No, we’ll never go here.'”
Great American Family, which was launched in 2021, provides a faith and family alternative to purely secular programming, including the massive holiday film market.
While major studios and networks have typically steered away from focusing on the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday, Great American Family is taking the opposite track and highlighting Christianity in many of its holiday offerings, according to Abbott.
“Spiritual or faith-based content is grossly underserved,” Abbott said. Abbott was formerly the head of Crown Media, the parent company of Hallmark Media, before exiting the company in 2020.
Abbott’s observation was echoed by Pure Flix founders David A.R. White and Michael Scott. The two told Fox News Digital that they and their late partner Russell Wolfe were driven to launch their own faith-based streaming platform to address this gap in the market.
“Ultimately, we figured out that, I think the stat was something like 150 million people went to church once a month,” White said. “And yet there was this hole for positive, uplifting, faith based entertainment in the marketplace. And so we just really felt like we needed to fill that.”
Like Bure, White and Scott, who are the sons of pastors, were also motivated to create content that reflects their own values and belief systems. “I think families were looking for it,” Scott noted. “People not only here in the U.S. but around the world were looking for it. It was just a great place for us to be.”
White added that they were inspired by “this hunger and this need to give people content that uplifted and inspired that human spirit that was something different than what Hollywood was giving to them.”
Pure Flix debuted in 2005, at a time in which White said that the faith-based film genre barely existed. White, who also stars in a number of Pure Flix’s titles, told Fox News Digital that there was hesitation on the part of some networks and studios to produce faith-based movies and TV shows due to doubts over whether they could be profitable.
“I don’t even think Hollywood really realized how big of a marketplace is here, like it didn’t even exist,” White said.
According to White, that perception changed when Pure Flix’s 2014 Christian drama “God’s Not Dead” became a surprise box office hit and eventually grossed $62 million in ticket sales on a $2 million budget.
“It rocked Hollywood, that all of a sudden, faith-based films, there was a purpose, there was a hunger for them,” he said. “Now we see almost every studio has a faith-based label. They woke up to that, like. ‘Oh, wow. There’s a whole genre here that we’ve been missing for so many years.'”
In 2020, Pure Flix was acquired by Sony Pictures, a move that Scott said has provided the platform with additional resources to expand its production of faith-based content while also staying true to its original mission.
This year, the platform’s Christmas line-up boasts over 190 titles. Scott and White told Fox News Digital that most of their holiday offerings have messages of faith. “Ultimately we want films that during the season drive you closer to God, not further away,” Scott said.
“I think for the longest time this content wasn’t available to families,” White observed. “Just safe, uplifting, inspiring content that ultimately brings people to higher levels of insight to who God is and the purpose that he has for their lives.”
“And that’s where Pure Flix differs,” he added. “We’re not really just focused on Santa Claus or how many gifts someone is going to have. It’s really about the reason for the season. Where is God in the middle of this Christmas?”
White and Scott shared Bure’s viewpoint when it comes to the removal of Christianity from Christmas films. “What does it mean in a society where sometimes they’re trying to take Christ out of Christmas? Just make it this winter land?” White asked.
He continued, “We forget about what started these holidays, what was the purpose for them? And so we try to bring those back.”
Faith-based films are not the only genre that hasn’t been easily accepted by Hollywood. “Dukes of Hazzard” star John Schneider told Fox News Digital that after realizing Tinseltown wouldn’t make a patriotic film, he knew that he had to forge his own path.
Schneider, 62, is starring in the new patriotic film titled “To Die For,” which was directed and produced independently without major studio backing.
The film follows reclusive veteran Quint North (Schneider), who takes a public stand for his personal freedoms after receiving a court order to keep his American flag-flying El Camino truck away from a local high school. The actor told Fox News Digital the film defends patriotism, freedom of speech and the American flag.
Schneider told Fox News Digital that he was inspired to make “To Die For” after reading an article about a man who had been jailed for refusing to remove the American flag from the back of his truck.
“I read the article, and it said he had a restraining order against him, so he couldn’t drive within a certain distance from the [local] high school with the flag on his truck,” he recalled.
Schneider continued, “[My wife and I] are big supporters of our military and our law enforcement. And I thought, now is the time to make a movie about this guy.”
“I wanted to make a movie not about that individual guy, but that kind of guy who is willing to go to jail in order to continue to express his First Amendment right of free speech,” he added.
The “Smallville” alum explained that “To Die For”, which premiered on Oct. 20, was made by a crew of less than 10 members over the past 10 months. Schneider said that he never approached Hollywood directors with the script, explaining that he believed that the status quo in the industry doesn’t allow for freedom of expression.
“People talk about Hollywood as if it has autonomy,” he told Fox News Digital. “Hollywood is a line item on a billionaire globalist spreadsheet, really. So, Hollywood has to basically do what they’re told. I know a lot of people in Hollywood, and I don’t really believe that they are naïve enough to believe a lot of the things that they put forth as truth. But as a very old song used to say, they owe their soul to the company store.”
“You’ve got the celebrity types who… get paid a lot of money, but they’re really doing what they’re told as well. So there’s not a lot of room in that model for free thought. There’s not a lot of room in that model for free speech. You really have to work, I believe, outside that model, ’cause that model’s not going to change.”
Rather than play by the rules of Hollywood, Schneider said that he set out to create his own content as an actor, writer and director, which enables him to tell the stories that he felt needed to be told.
In 2014, he opened his own film and music production in Louisiana. Schneider and his wife and producing partner, Alicia Allain, who owns the production company Maven Entertainment, have made 15 films together.
“We now live in an amazingly wonderful, technological world where we can not only make our own films, but we can distribute them as well without having to sleep with the enemy,” said Schneider.
Schneider expressed that he wanted to build his “own sandbox” after he said that he was blacklisted by mainstream Hollywood because he voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“When I left that sandbox, I [had] no intention of going back to it,” he said. “If I felt like they do, I wouldn’t work with me either. But I feel like I do, so I don’t want to work with them. You know, it’s not all about them. I think that’s a mistake a lot of creative folks make. This carrot of working for the machine is dangling out there and they want it… which causes them to compromise their position, which oftentimes looks like hypocrisy… It is hypocrisy in the eyes of their audience.”
“You have to be careful about that,” Schneider continued. “I’ve been around this for a long, long time. I have seen many carrots. I have chased many carrots. I have caught many carrots and I have eaten many carrots. I don’t need to do that anymore.”