By one point of view this is a fantastic way to raise awareness of the Church. It goes beyond the 14 million members who may not be a good example to their neighbors. It gives people a non "preachy" introduction to who Mormons are and what the LDS church is about. It clarifies (with test groups to prove it) that Mormons are Christian, they are good people, and they deserve respect. It shows what a life can look like and or mean when someone strives to follow the Savior. It will be a nice uplifting film. It may not directly preach or proselytize however indirectly it may by bringing awareness and people to the Church. I get that. It's never been tried before, it's innovative, and will get people talking.
Here's another view to consider. It's propaganda. Expensive propaganda. As much as they say they are not selling something, they very much are. Market research, test audiences, internal research divisions, and social sciences were implemented in the exact same way any other propaganda would be. Test audiences were utilized as they would be when testing a new technology gadget, or new feature on a cell phone. Remember how Jesus did this when he tested his Gospel on test subjects and then altered it's content to fit their liking? Ya, I don't remember that either...
This movie will need portray a very carefully chosen Mormons as a typical "prototype". The selected individuals will have been carefully chosen, there will need to be carefully selected music, carefully produced and researched visual effects and market tested content to produce a specific reaction in the observer. Not just any member following the Savior will do. The research division knows that is not as likely to produce box office numbers sufficient to keep the film in theaters. This movie highlights things that will get a good reaction. The research division should be very proud. Never before has the Gospel had such theatrics. Perhaps we should be grateful we have such tools to augment and glitter up the gospel.
It was also interesting to note that Elder Holland explicitly stated the church is not proselytizing with this film. We now have a 5 billion dollar shopping mall, and a full length theatrical film neither of which is intended to proselytize. I guess this effort falls under one of the other missions of the church?
The church's public image seems is less and less about saving souls, and producing truth, and more about being understood, liked, popular, and viewed as "normal" Christians. Instead of saving truths, paid professionals are employed to select ideal candidates, perfect music, and content to warm the emotions. The movie's existence in theaters depends on popularity. It needs big box office returns, not for gain (that's what the mall is for), but for ongoing exposure and popularity. The tools employed are largely the arm of the flesh.
There are many other views ranging across the spectrum. I present just a few to consider. Is this the result of the Spirit? Or polls, opinion tracking, and a paid research department full of professionals? Some say there is no harm in taking the best of both. Another view would say the restoration has already been compromised by trusting in the arm of the flesh.
What do you think?