First published by Windblown Media in May 2007, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young captured the attention—and in some cases the scorn—of millions of readers with a story about a man’s confrontation with God. Young’s depiction of the Holy Trinity, including God as an African American woman, earned him accusations of heresy and theological inaccuracy. Hachette bought rights to the book in 2008, and The Shack has since sold over 22 million copies across all formats worldwide, according to the publisher. The film adaptation of the book starring Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, and Tim McGraw hits theaters in the U.S. on March 3.
Young gave creative control of the film to Windblown Media founders Brad Cummings and Wayne Jacobson, but he was invited to participate in the script writing, casting, and on the set. “I signed over film rights so that we could move in different directions in peace,” Young told PW. “It was the only way to go forward and it was a gift. I laid it down 100%. I have no regrets.”
Although Young called the film a “faithful adaptation” to his novel, the author noted a major difference between the main character in the book, Mack, and the character onscreen. “I framed the book within someone in a difficult religious situation, someone with a stern sense of Christianity,” said Young.
In the film, however, Mack is doubtful of God rather than simply frustrated by religion–a significant difference. “Mack is a broken, angry believer in the book, and in the movie he’s not a disappointed believer, but agnostic,” said Windblown Media president and CEO Brad Cummings, who served as producer of the film. “We wanted to take this movie to a wider audience, and the easy way to do this was to shift Mack to be just like an average moviegoer that I think a lot of people can relate to.”
The movie tie-in edition of The Shack, which is currently #4 on our religion fiction bestseller list, features eight pages of photos from the film and a new chapter by Young. Marketing and publicity included a national and Christian media campaign with coverage in the Chicago Tribune, New York Post, and other outlets, as well as promotion on social media.
According to Young, the big screen adaptation of his book offers a positive perspective in a time of political division and doubt. “It will help start authentic conversations about faith and humanity,” he said. “God becoming human is a high view of humanity, and right now, we have a low view of humanity.”