Bruce Thompson, owner of The Thompson Group Allstate agency, looked to Bartow Baptist Associational Missionary David Franklin for ideas on how to reach members of the community. As excitement mounted over the Christian film "Courageous," Thompson decided to rent a theater for a special viewing with local families impacted by the April tornadoes.
"The primary focus of this is for the families impacted by the tornadoes, to just honor them and let them know they're not forgotten," Thompson said. "The community has done a fantastic job to really mobilize and touch these families, but we've now moved on. And emotionally, these families are going to be affected for years and years to come."
"Courageous" is a family film about four men who struggle with their duties as fathers and those of their careers in law enforcement. The film is produced by Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, the makers of "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof," and was filmed in Georgia.
"This movie is a very uplifting and encouraging thing," Franklin said. "First of all, the movie itself, I think will be a blessing. The second thing is, I think it's good that the tornado happened at the end of April and here is somebody that's still thinking about these people.
"I think this is a great way that Bruce has said, 'You know what, we're still in this thing.' I think it's a really good thing for him to be able to do this and I think it sends a real signal to these people that you have not been forgotten. We're still hanging in there with you."
The screening held for Bartow County tornado victims will take place Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1 p.m. at the Cartersville Carmike Cinemas. Those interested in attending are asked to contact Thompson since current lists of families impacted by the storms do not provide full contact information.
"Mobilization efforts were done door-to-door and there's really no way to contact them by phone. I have a call center right now that's calling all of those people ... but the scope is very limited and so we've got to get the word out," Thompson said. "We don't want to leave anyone behind that might have an opportunity to just come and enjoy an evening at the theater -- and frankly at the moment, that may not even be on their radar to spend money to go to a theater for a family outing."
This is not Thompson's first foray into movie screenings. As an act of customer appreciation, Thompson's insurance agency provided customers in Towne Lake with a premiere showing of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2." "Courageous," however, caught Thompson's attention for another reason.
"From a faith-based perspective, I'd like to support it, and we looked at, 'Do we look at it as an opportunity to honor just clients, do we look at it as an opportunity to drive prospects?' And we said, 'No, this is an opportunity for us to honor people that have been impacted traumatically this past year,'" Thompson said. "This community is so family focused and there's such a strong and vibrant family atmosphere here, I want to continue to do my part in fostering that."
Franklin, too, was looking for ways to support the film and has been pleasantly surprised with the response by the community and area churches. He described how the movie was not originally scheduled to show in Cartersville, but has turned into a success.
"We went down to the movie theater because we were thinking, 'Hey, let's see if we can rent some theaters and stuff like this.' Well, we found out we weren't scheduled to have this movie. So, we made a special appeal," Franklin said. "We were told there were only 900 spots getting this movie, 790 of them had already been pre-selected. They said, the chances of us getting this were slim to none.
"We ended up getting the movie here in Cartersville, and right now, we are leading the nation as far as pre-sold tickets."
Carmike Cinemas were unable to verify pre-sale ticket numbers prior to press time.
Families impacted by the April tornadoes are asked to contact Anita Wallace at 770-606-1092 or Thompson at 404-660-1165.