Faith Friendly Political Thriller Persecuted Outperforms Sex Tape and Planet Of The Apes in Key Heartland Markets As Film Comes Under Fire For Casting Of Fox News Host

Jul 20, 2014, 14:45 ET from One Media LLC

LOS ANGELES, July 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  Persecuted, a new faith-friendly political thriller is surprising box office watchers by out-performing blockbusters Sex Tape and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes in key heartland markets including Wichita, Memphis, Columbus, Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, and Cincinnati. 

"We are very happy to see that many traditionalist viewers are coming out to enjoy this movie in such large numbers," said writer/director Daniel Lusko, of One Media LLC. "I never dreamed we'd be outpacing the big movies in these markets. It's a thrill."

Despite these strong numbers, the movie hasn't been as popular with critics who have criticized the choice of Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson who makes her acting debut in Persecuted. 

The New York Times opines, "The title -- "Persecuted" -- and the presence of the Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson in the cast are really all you need to know."

"Persecuted is a heavy-handed and didactic drama which also manages to be totally mushy in terms of the message it's trying to convey. The ubiquitous presence of Fox News Channel anchor Gretchen Carlson ensures that," wrote Christy Lemire for

"Featuring Fox News Channel personality Gretchen Carlson as a television news anchor the not so fair and balanced film might have made its religious themes palatable if it worked reasonably well as a thriller," noted The Hollywood Reporter.

"I'm used to being attacked simply because of where I work," said Carlson. "Some people may consider the criticism a bigger reason to actually see the film."

"I'm glad we chose Gretchen and I'd do it again," said Lusko. "I don't mind criticism of my movie but singling out Fox is ridiculous. If I had to choose between critics and fans I'd go with the fans any day."

PERSECUTED, the story of a preacher turned fugitive who is framed for the murder of a young girl was released through Millennium Entertainment on 700 screens and stars former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (Die Hard, Law & Order), James Remar (X-Men First Class, Red), and Bruce Davison (Lost, CSI, X-Men) along with Brad Stine, Gretchen Carlson, and Natalie Grant.