How 'Act of Valor' Broke Through to the Mainstream

Conservative films are the rarest of movie genres. You’re more likely to see a new western or musical than a film directly targeting the Right. And the right-of-center films which turn a handsome profit represent a smaller sub-section of that film niche.

Yet “Act of Valor,” a pro-military, pro-American war movie, conquered the box office with a $24.5 million haul over the weekend despite several marketing hardships.No big movie stars. No fast-food tie ins. No built-in brand awareness or pop culture source material to fall back on.

No problem.

That begs the question – why did “Valor” buck Hollywood conventional wisdom?

  • Ideology Not Front and Center: “Act of Valor” doesn’t preach. We don’t get sermons about the righteousness of the U.S. mission to smite terrorists. Instead, the action comes first, and nothing exists to take us out of the experience.
  • CGI-free Zone: The directors of “Valor” both previously served as movie stunt men. And they started “Valor” with the mission to avoid CGI whenever possible while shooting action sequences. The results pop off the screen in an age when the movie-going public is getting bored of computer-driven sequences.
  • Targeted Marketing: Not every film studio can pony up for a Super Bowl commercial. But the folks behind “Act of Valor” scratched together enough pennies to promote the film on the recently completed Super Bowl broadcast, a perfect way to reach the film’s target audience – males who enjoy the All-American sports event of the year.
  • Give ’em What They Want: Hollywood released one anti-war film flop (“Lions for Lambs”) after another (“In the Valley of Elah”). It makes perfect sense that a war film which honored, rather than trashed, the U.S. military would be embraced by movie goers. It took an independent film like “Act of Valor” to prove what should have been obvious to the greenest of movie producers.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.