Former Growing Pains star and born-again Christian Kirk Cameron ignited a controversy Friday when he told CNN’s Piers Morgan he thought homosexuality was “unnatural … destructive to … civilization.” GLAAD immediately responded, calling Cameron “dated” and “out of step.”
Judging by the trailer for his new documentary Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure, Cameron won’t back down any time soon. He leads the promo – which you can watch below – by saying, “something is sick in the soul of our country … we’re headed for disaster if we don’t change our course now.” The actor travels the U.S. in a sort of Who Do You Think You Are? for morality. But how will the film perform given Cameron’s recent, potentially alienating, comments?
Monumental is Cameron’s first foray into producing, though the strength of his Christian reputation has driven several smaller, niche projects to notoriety. He headlined the Left Behind movies (based on the apocalyptic book series of the same name by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins) as the 2008 movie-turned-viral sensation Fireproof. Both movies have not fared well critically, with Left Behind scoring a poor 22 out of a 100 score on Metacritic, and Fireproof barely besting that with a 28. Likewise, their Rotten Tomatoes scores are 16 percent (Cameron’s career low) for 2001’s Left Behind and 40 percent for Fireproof. (Two other films in the Left Behind series went straight to DVD, though weren’t met with much – okay, any – praise, even from Christian media outlets.)
Despite the critical pounding, though, Cameron’s films have at least recouped and sometimes exploded financially. Left Behind made a very modest profit (about $200,000 on top of its effects-driven, relatively expensive $4 million budget), and the decision to send the other films to DVD bears that out. Fireproof, however, was an out-and-out success. The film cost only half a million to make and earned $33.5 million at the box office. It’s worth noting that 99.9 percent of that was domestic.
One thing is clear about Cameron’s following: It is very specific and very devoted. It seems reasonable to guess, then, that anyone who would pay to see Monumental in theaters come March 27 is already familiar with Cameron’s philosophy and his oeuvre. Though Cameron’s comments about gays may have been some of the strongest he’s made in recent memory, they’re not particularly off-brand for him and they’re certainly on-message for the sentiment of Monumental’s trailer. Has Kirk Cameron hurt himself with the average American? Maybe. Has he alienated his core demographic? Highly unlikely.