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CNN
Deciphering the success of 'Omega Code'
October 26, 1999
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT)

From Gloria Hillard
CNN Entertainment News Correspondent


LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- "The Omega Code" is one of the most unlikely success stories in the movie Industry. This"millennium thriller," as some have called it, boasts mystery, action, special effects, and a $4.5 million take after just 10 days in release. Compared to a big studio release, its earnings are nothing special. But it's impressive when you consider that it was produced by a religious broadcaster.

Paul Crouch, televangelist and founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network, funded the $7.2 million Film starring Michael York, Catherine Oxenburg and her husbandCasper Van Dien. "I longed for many years to do a film on biblical prophecy," Crouch says.

Now he has, with a film whose plot centers on efforts to stop a villain from using a stolen secret Bible code to take over the world. The controversial idea that the Old Testament contains hidden references has been the subject of numerous studies, and was the subject of the 1997 bestseller "The Bible Code" by Michael Drosnin.

Crouch's son Matthew, president of Gener8xion Entertainment, is the producer. "I think I, as a
producer, have a core audience that have watched my parents for 27 years," he says. "This is a film we can believe in. This a film we can support, and they did."

The film cracked the top 10 at the box office in its opening weekend, taking in $2.4 million. It was shown only in 304 theaters. The Crouches are attributing the movie's success to grass roots marketing, which included soliciting 2,000 volunteers to distribute flyers, put up posters and preach from the pulpit.

"Pastors rose up, and many of them bought out whole theaters," the elder Crouch says. "They loaded up the church bus, and here they came. Hollywood is sitting back and saying, 'Hey, how did you guys do that?'"

"I think it has a good chance of crossing over and appealing across the board," says York, who
charismatic world leader in the film -- sort of an anti-Christ figure of Christian prophetic teachings. "The timing is very right. Christians talk about the end time, and there's a great sense that we're in a millennium changeover. The film reflects these kind of concerns." In doing so, the film targets an audience that feels disenfranchised from Hollywood.

"Well I heard so much about it," one woman says, "and we don't get very many Christian movies, so when I heard it was coming, I thought I'd see it."

"I don't see blood-and-guts movies," says another. "This (film) is exciting and gives me a reason to go to movies more often."

"Omega Code" is scheduled to open in 30 more theaters next weekend.

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