Perhaps his best moment was in this analysis of the difference between successful Christian stories (Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Passion) and unsuccessful ones (Evan Almighty, Nativity Story):
Vischer: Some Christian films have failed flat-out because their plot was their message when it should’ve been a subtext or a comment that a side character makes in passing. However, if your main character turns to the camera and delivers the truth of Jesus, you’ve probably lost nine-tenths of your audience in five words. It’s hard to accept that when you are a filmmaker who has decided God wants you to use filmmaking to share the gospel.
The Passion was such an anomaly, you really can’t use it to learn much of anything about the nature of film. You had the most popular film actor in the world making a deeply personal work of art about a religious story. What are the odds of that happening again?
The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings are also tough test cases. How many Narnias are there? How easy is it to come up with another Lord of the Rings? It’s not. There’s Tolkien and Lewis and then everybody else. Besides, you couldn’t write Narnia today and have it accepted by the evangelical world because [of the magic] and because in its metaphor, it effectively has a non-Christian worldview.
Now, if we go to another fantasy world, we need to find Jesus there—literally. That is why the Harry Potter books are viewed to be straight from the pit. Even if Rowling says she’s enjoying Christian themes, forget it. How do you write a Christian fantasy today? I have no idea. I don’t know that you can. I think we’ve killed it. I think we are so concerned with how oppressed our worldview is and so defensive that we’ve painted ourselves into a corner. And thus, we can’t tell the kind of stories that Lewis or Chesterton would have told to share the gospel. It’s kind of depressing, frankly.
Emphasis is mine. Part of the problem is in trying to make the Christ overly explicit, which results in, say, a “Christian Harry Potter,” “Christian Linux,” or “Christian Green Day.” Take the cultural X and make it the “Christian X.”
Early on, Vischer went straight to this tendency, with X = Disney, but seems to have reconsidered:
Vischer: Well, I was hoping Jonah would save my company and keep me on a path to build the Christian Disney. That’s a pretty high expectation to put on one story. This film, honestly, I just hope people will be engaged by the story and get a glimmer of the Christian life because it’s in there if you look for it. That’s it.
For more, read this interview with Vischer: What Makes a Movie “Christian?”