Nov 1, 2012

Movie Theater Accidentally Shows Paranormal Activity 4 to Kids

A movie theater recently made the mistake of not previewing the movie they had in queue.

A theater full of parents with young children were excitedly waiting for Madagascar 3 to start.  Instead, the horror movie Paranormal Activity 4 started playing.

Almost immediately, as many as 25 families rushed their kids out of the theater, but not before a gruesome opening sequence — in which a bloodied female corpse is thrown at the camera — was witnessed by children as young as five.

“They started playing the movie and I thought – this doesn’t look right,” Natasha Lewis, mother of eight-year-old Dylan.  ”Everybody just scrambled for the exits, all you could hear were children crying and screaming. Everyone was very upset.”

I have learned the hard way to always preview a video clip before showing it to children.  We decided to use a clip from a movie for a children's service and didn't preview it all the way through.  Imagine our shock when a curse word was uttered in the clip.  We had to do a lot of explaining and damage control.  Luckily, I kept my job.

Here's a few things to keep in mind when using movie clips for a children's service.
  • Primarily use clips from G-rated movies.  PG can be used occasionally, but never use clips from R rated movies.
  • Consider informing parents ahead of time when you are going to show a clip that is not from a "Christian" movie.
  • When in doubt...don't.
  • Make sure the clip is age appropriate.  A clip that is appropriate for a pre-teen may not be appropriate for a 5 year old.
Have you ever made a mistake when showing a video clip?
What are some other tips to keep in mind when using video clips?

Share your comments with us below.


2 things happened.
Special Speaker.
Last minute "hey, could you add this clip on my thumbdrive to the presentation?"
The Sr. Pastor, not wanting to cause a stir with the visitor, nodded. (making an exception to our policy.)
What happened was a clip from X-Men: First Class, a PG13 movie, showing the formation of the mutant team. Wolverine makes a brief cameo and drops the F-bomb.
Red creeped up my neck and I thanked God that the pastor himself gave the nod of approval. Either the speaker was unaware of the word being in the clip, even after the gasp, or he truly did not have any problem on any level with the use of the word.

Wow...awkward for sure. Great point to remember. With kids, good to ask to preview any clips a special guest speaker wants to show.

I was the pastor of church where I preached a sermon series on five theological world views titled "What World Are You Living On?" It was based on the book _Worlds Within a Congregation_ by Paul Jones.

In one sermon I showed a clip from Cool Hand Luke where Luke gets beat up but refuses to stay down on the ground despite urging from others to do so. I think the clip made the point quite well, but it offended several people.

Here is what I failed to consider before showing that clip. 1) there might be children in worship who did not need to see that level of violence. 2) there might be victims of domestic violence for whom these images would be disturbing.

I was called out on both, and ended up having one person leave the church and then continue to speak poorly of the church for sometime afterward.

Lesson learned: always think about who is in your audience

Thanks for sharing Josh. The dynamic of what is appropriate to show definitely changes when kiddos are in the room.

Yikes! That's not good! One time a few years ago, I showed a video clip in kids' church, from a Christian cartoon movie for kids, about missionary Jim Elliot, and in the clip, he was killed (he was stabbed with a spear and fell backwards into a river). It was kid-friendly, and not gory at all (no blood, etc), but it completely freaked out one kindergarten girl, whose parents called me, fuming. They said it terrorized her to see someone get killed, and they are very careful about what they let her see... I felt terrible, and tried to mend the relationship, but they left the church. She was the only kid that I know of that had a problem, but I have since been VERY careful about what I show. You never know what will upset kids, and I have learned that it is better to be as careful as possible; even though something is kid-friendly doesn't mean it's good to show kids.

I also had some preteen teachers show a clip from Karate Kid, and the d*** word was said; they were shocked, and so were the kids! Had to do some quick damage control, but nobody was upset. Now I have reminded all my teachers to let me know about movie clips ahead of time and make sure to preview all of them.

This was regularly a touchy subject in our ministry. Once we showed a clip from the Prince of Egypt, to Elementary kids, and one parent said it scared his son.

During a low-attendance, fun day (the week after Christmas), we showed Charlie Brown & Grinch movies, and a parent complained that we didn't show "Christian movies." He wanted us to show Veggie Tales, but I said that I wasn't going to show that to a group that included 9 & 10 year old boys.

Hey Lynne, it is too bad when a family leaves a church over something like this. Usually there is something deeper behind it and it just gave them an out to leave. It still hurts though. I try to focus on who is coming in rather than on who is leaving. Once someone decides to leave, there is not much you can do. Trust things are going well for you in Ala.

Joey, I am thinking on pitching a new Veggie Tales movie to Big Idea. It would be an episode about the man who betrayed Jesus and would be called Judas is a Carrot. What do you think? (ha)

LOVE the Veggie Tales movie idea! Sounds awesome. Yes, things are great! And you are so right about focusing on people COMING to the church, rather than the few who have deeper issues who choose to leave. Things are GREAT! Thanks for the great blog posts. This is my fav kidmin blog!!

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