(WBIR) Many East Tennesseans flocked to the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Turkey Creek to be among the first in the world to see 'Persecuted'.
The faith-based film stars James Remar ('X-Men: First Class', 'Dexter', 'Django: Unchained', 'What Lies Beneath', 'Red'), Dean Stockwell ('Air Force One', 'The Manchurian Candidate', Star Trek'), former Republic U.S. Senator Fred Thompson ('Law & Order', 'Die Hard 2', 'Hunt for Red October'), Brad Stine (recognized as "God's Comic" by 'The New Yorker', social commentator on 'Fox & Friend', 'Marriage Retreat') Raoul Trujillo ('Apocolypto', 'Cowboys and Aliens', 'The New World'), Natalie Grant (five-time Dove Award-winning singer and songwriter), and Gretchen Carlson (Fox News Channel).
The movie tells the story of a modern-day evangelist named John Luther, played by Remar, who is the last hold out for a national endorsement to make a sweeping reform in freedom of speech that would compel religious leaders to provide equal time to those of other faiths.
'Persecuted' is one of many faith-based movies to be released this year.
Daniel Lusko, the movie's writer, director, and producer, said, "I think it's amazing to see kind of a resurgence of this content in the market. It shows that there is a demand across the country for movies with backbone. A good friend of mine said maybe people are tired of the false god and maybe they're ready for the real one."
One Christian film that is doing extremely well this year is 'God's Not Dead'. The movie has earned about $60 million since being released in March 2014.
In addition to 'God's Not Dead', other faith-based films to hit theaters so far this year are 'Son of God', 'Noah', 'Heaven Is For Real', and 'Mom's Night Out'.
The Christian movies seem to be getting mixed reviews from some churchgoers.
"I have an issue with some of it because I think some of it is commercial. It's just for the money because they found out 'The Bible' [series] made a lot of money and so now they're going to get on the bandwagon," said Knoxville's New Beginnings Church Pastor Karen Arter.
"I think it's good because some of it is getting the message across to people who would probably never go to church and in that form I see it as good," said New Beginnings Church Co-Pastor Laurie Hall.
'Persecuted' hits theaters on July 18th. Ticket for Wednesday's special screening cost $20 with all proceeds will benefit Variety Children's Charity of East Tennessee.