A UK cinema chain has rejected a short film highlighting the comfort some first world war soldiers found in the Bible. The film by the Bible Society was intended to be shown in 125 screens around the country in the run-up to the armistice centenary ...
A UK cinema chain has rejected a short film highlighting the comfort some first world war soldiers found in the Bible.
The film by the Bible Society was intended to be shown in 125 screens around the country in the run-up to the armistice centenary this weekend, but was vetoed by Empire Cinemas, which does not accept religious or political advertising.
Over footage of soldiers in trenches, the three-minute film informs viewers that all British troops were given a Bible as part of their kit. “To many it was a source of hope, for eternal peace,” reads caption material.
The film moves to the present day, showing people reciting a passage from Revelation, customarily read at Remembrance Sunday services, as they go about their daily lives. They include a farmer, a fisherman, a hairdresser, a chef and a retired person.
According to the Bible Society, the cinema advertising company Pearl & Dean agreed to distribute the film. But in an email sent to the society last month, Pearl & Dean said Empire Cinemas, which has 125 screens at 14 venues across the UK, had declined to show the film.
“The reason for this is in the contracts with our exhibitors, they get veto over any sort of religious or political ad. I am sorry to deliver this news, but unfortunately they do get final say,” said Pearl & Dean’s email.
Paul Woolley of the Bible Society said: “The Bible is not a ‘religious’ document, just for Christians or just for ‘religious’ life; it’s a book for everyone. It’s an historical fact that the Bible was a core part of a British soldier’s kit and that, to many, it was a source of hope.
“Of course Empire Cinemas is free to decide what they want to show or not. But we are saddened their customers won’t get a chance to reflect on the role of the Bible, past and present.”
Kathryn Jacob, the chief executive of Pearl & Dean, said the company had advised the Bible Society that cinemas had the right not to carry certain campaigns or categories.
“Given the recent issues religious groups have had with some cinemas, we wanted to make this clear. One of the two companies approached decided not to carry this campaign, the other accepted it. This client then pulled the whole plan … [and] decided to make this situation public,” she said.
“At no stage had we said that acceptance was guaranteed. Cinemas must have the ability to run the content they feel is appropriate for the audiences they serve.”
Three years ago, the Church of England became embroiled in a row with three cinema chains that declined to show a 60-second film featuring the Lord’s Prayer on the grounds it risked upsetting or offending audiences.
Empire Cinemas has been approached for comment.
Religion,Armistice centenary,First world war,Film,UK news,Business,Christianity