Image Entertainment, Inc. is proud to announce the launch of a new label, Slingshot Pictures. The line will focus exclusively on faith-based titles and be managed by industry veteran Suzette Schafer who has been hired as Senior Vice President. The Slingshot Pictures brand will premiere in November according to Image Entertainment Chief Acquisitions Officer Bill Bromiley.
"With a current estimate of $4.5 billion annually, the faith-based market continues to grow and, at present, is underserved," commented Bromiley. "With the addition of Suzette and her vast knowledge of this market, we have identified several films that we feel are perfect for audiences and will continue to add more films to the label's library."
"I'm excited to be launching this new label for Image Entertainment," said Suzette Schafer, Senior Vice President, Specialty Product. "It is our goal to acquire films that have strong family values, messages of hope and are life affirming as well as spiritually enriching. Slingshot Pictures will bring these films to audiences through standard distribution channels as well as explore new innovative outlets to broaden accessibility and bring inspirational content to consumers worldwide"
The first film under the new banner will be Alleged, a stirring romantic period story set during the infamous 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial" that pitted believers in Creation against those who believed in evolution in the unblinking glare of the national media. Available on November 8, 2011, Alleged stars Nathan West (Miracle), Ashley Johnson (The Help), Fred Dalton Thompson (The Genesis Code), Brian Dennehy (Cocoon) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Two additional films have been acquired for the Slingshot Pictures moniker and are being slated for release in 2012. They include Decision and The Heart of Christmas.
In Decision, a family in despair rediscovers its faith in this uplifting drama from the producers of WWJD: What Would Jesus Do?Natalie Grant (four-time GMA Dove Awards Female Vocalist of the Year) stars as Ilene, who struggles to make ends meet after the tragic death of her firefighter husband (country music star Billy Dean). When she begins to lose control of her heartbroken teenage son Jackson (Michael Rosenbaum), she reaches out to her estranged father Wyatt (Rusty Whitener), a farmer, to take in the troubled boy. Wyatt is a good man but set in his ways, and Jackson resists Wyatt's attempts to instill in him the virtues of hard work and his Christian values. Gradually, they form a bond that will require Jackson to find an inner strength he never knew he had to avert yet another family tragedy.
Based on the inspirational holiday song "One Last Christmas" by best-selling artist Matthew West, The Heart of Christmas tells the story of one family's quest for their two-year old son, stricken with leukemia, to experience one last magical Christmas. Their journey and desire to savor every moment would change their lives, and the community around them, forever. The films stars Candace Cameron Bure (Full House), Jeanne Neilson (Faith Like Potatoes), and George Newbern (NCIS, Father of the Bride). Also featured are Dendrie Taylor (The Fighter, Jarhead), Erin Bethea (Fireproof), Anita Renfroe (Bless This Mess) and Burgess Jenkins (Remember the Titans, Shunning).
Schafer joins the Image Entertainment team with over 24 years of experience in the field of home entertainment. She most recently served as the head of faith and family division for the Weinstein's Genius products where she built strategic, point-of-sale relationships with Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Blockbuster and many others. Prior to her time at Genius, Schafer was Senior Vice President of Sales at GT Media, a subsidiary of Gaiam, where she was responsible for entertainment and fitness being sold. She successfully launched such high profile kids and fitness brands as Felix the Cat, Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit, Billy Blanks Tae Bo, The FIRM and Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds. Schafer was a major force in establishing a presence within the CBA (Christian retail) market by opening a direct relationship with Family Christian Stores, which represent 30% of the Christian retail segment. She was actively involved in the placement of such faith-based properties as Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, Charlton Heston Presents the Bible, Jerry Jenkins, Though None Go with Me, Christmas Shoes and more. Over the years, she's worked with Sony Pictures, Hit Entertainment, USA Films/Polygram, Turner and Orion.