September 12, MoJo Box Office has revealed that two notable, redemptive movies are at the top of the box office: “War Room” and “90 Minutes in Heaven” that opened on 9/11. In recent decades redemptive movies have been doing better and better at the box office. Why and how is this? Why does their success come as a surprise?
On September 12, an AP news report quotes Rich Peluso, senior vice president of Sony’s AFFIRM Films, which produced “War Room” with Provident Films, “After “War Room” nearly beat “Straight Outta Compton” in its opening weekend, it defied expectations in its second week in theaters and rose to the top spot over the holiday weekend. Its strongest day wasn’t the opening either. It was Labor Day — a full 11 days after “War Room” was released — that saw the most people buying tickets. That’s just not supposed to happen… everybody is surprised.”
Over and over successful faith-based films seem a surprise. The AP report states that this is partly because days before a film’s release, most studios have a solid idea of exactly how its film will perform opening weekend. Further, the AP article contends that faith-based audiences prove more elusive to traditional metrics. Peluso further has said, “Tracking does a really good job of looking at frequent movie goers and what their interests are. With faith-based films, we’re bringing infrequent customers into the theaters.”
Support for the Kendrick Brothers movies has been generated over time through long-standing relationships with supporters, with national religious leaders, and with Christian churches. They have even provided a free date night for pastors and their wives to see “War Room.” Further, they have established personal relationships with their family of supporters through social media, especially on Facebook where they have posted daily updates, behind the scenes videos, and information about “War Room” and their other movies, much as Roma Downey and Mark Burnett have done with their faith-based projects.
Further, all three top September redemptive movies (“War Room,” “90 Minutes in Heaven,” and “Captive” are connected to best-selling books with their own support base. The better screenwriting for all three movies has influenced and affected by the good writing in the books on which they are based.
Veteran actors are in all three movies and turn out captivating performances. All three movies have wide appeal to faith-based audiences. “War Room” and “Captive” have multi-racial casts. “War Room” has drawn multi-racial audiences.
Innovative grassroots strategies have proved successful such as with Gathr® Films, as pioneers of theatrical releases on demand. Through grassroots marketing and outreach they generate public and private screening event requests for films, accommodate, and book those requests in local theaters and non-theatrical venues. Gathr® screenings happen when a minimum number of people reserve tickets before a screening request expires. On every screening page those interested in the movie screening, find an update that shows them the number of current reservations, the number of additional reservations needed to tip the screening, as well as how much time remains before that screening request expires. When enough people reserve tickets to a screening before time expires, the screening takes place. If the minimum number of reservations is not met, the screening does not take place and nobody is charged.
Gathr® Films has facilitated the success of the independent redemptive movie, “Beyond the Mask” and is currently supporting the independent movie “Beyond the Farthest Star.” Freestyling Releasing went on to successfully distribute “Beyond the Mask,” as it did for Pure Flix’s “God’s Not Dead.”
The 168 Film Festival has also launched successful independent redemptive movies. Andrew Librizzi (Texas filmmaker) has been launched by 168 and has become one of the 168-empowered career launches. His first feature length film, called “Beyond the Farthest Star,” has been released to theaters in August and continues to enjoy on-demand screenings through Gathr® Films.
Like the other independent redemptive movie “Beyond the Farthest Star” has continued to gather supporters on Facebook, where it has announced how those interested in the movie can sign up for screenings.
Christian filmmakers with limited budgets are adopting a simple marketing message and spreading it on social media: Buy your tickets in advance and meet us at the theater for a one-night-only screening.
“Adrenaline” and “Beyond the Farthest Star” are the latest Christian films using a one-night-only release strategy. This strategy reduces the cost of film distribution and creates a sense of urgency.
A captain or host selects a theater and asks friends and church members via Facebook or email to buy their tickets online early. If enough people sign up, the movie is guaranteed to be shown at a local theater. The audience members’ credit cards are not charged until enough people sign up. This is called the tipping point.
Church groups can ensure the movie will come to a movie theater near them by promoting a movie event and purchasing tickets in advance online. Tickets are available through Gathr® Films. the theater-on-demand service.
Most importantly, as Brian Bird, screenwriter for the upcoming powerful redemptive movie, “Captive,” has said in a recent interview with Austin Movie Examiner today there is void that redemptive media is filling. Souls are starved and redemptive media producers are feeding these souls. He also has seen a need and hunger for objective Truth, classic reasoning, and understanding of natural laws that redemptive media producers are filling, Further, as redemptive movies are improving in all aspects they are reaching wider audiences. Furthermore, and most fundamentally, there is a great deal of prayer and Christian commitment behind these movies.
Thus, there are numerous grassroots strategies that are working to bring audiences out to see independent redemptive movies in theaters and leading some of them to positions at the top of the box office. These efforts are challenging to track and therefore sometimes propel independent movies to the top of the box office to the surprise of many.