The creators of God’s Not Dead likely never intended for their film to be viewed this way. At the 2015 American Atheists National Convention, the movie will get the MST3K treatment, with the help of Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff. The conference takes place in Memphis, April 2-5.
The events at the conference feature a variety of speakers, including a vaccination expert, atheist authors and activists, and others, but an announcement released this week has MST3K fans and the nonreligious alike excited — on the last day of the conference, Sunday, April 5, there will be a screening of God’s Not Dead, with Frank Connif (“TV’s Frank”) and Trace Beaulieu joining to “riff on the film in the presence of a live audience.”
So far, the overwhelming response to the announcement is to ask whether there will be a recording of the performance available for purchase, or if it will be available to stream. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast members who will be participating have tweeted about the God’s Not Dead screening, and would-be convention-goers who aren’t able to make the trip are begging for a way to not miss this.
— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) March 14, 2015
Unfortunately for these hopefuls, rights for a live screening are separate from the rights to use the film in a derivative work, and it’s not expected that those additional rights will be available. A possible alternative that many are asking for is to record the commentary separately, in the style of Rifftrax so that it can be sold without the intellectual property of God’s Not Dead, but there’s no official confirmation this will happen.
The MST3K-style screening closely follows the release of the newest movie from the creators of God’s Not Dead, Do You Believe?, a film that, like God’s Not Dead, follows the experiences of several individuals whose lives cross as they examine their beliefs, or lack thereof, in life-and-death situations.
Released in theaters one year ago this week, God’s Not Dead netted $60 million at the box office and a great deal of criticism for its portrayal of non-Christians as abusive, angry, and miserable. Despite this, the movie has been praised as a success and screened by churches, youth groups, and other faith-based organizations.
This will, notably, not be the first time an atheist organization has screened God’s Not Dead for its members, but it will be the first time it is screened to a non-believing audience of such a large size, and certainly the first (only? fans are hoping not) time it gets the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment from Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu.