Box office: The Shack has one of the biggest openings ever for a “faith-based” film

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Hugh Jackman’s final performance as the Wolverine may have been the top box-office draw, but it wasn’t the only success story at the multiplex this weekend.

The Shack — an adaptation of the best-selling William Paul Young novel about a grieving father who spends a weekend with the three persons of the Trinity — grossed an estimated $16.1 million between Thursday and Sunday nights.

That’s the fourth-best opening of any “faith-based” film ever:

  • 2004 — The Passion of the Christ — $83.8 million
  • 2014 — Son of God — $25.6 million
  • 2014 — Heaven Is for Real — $22.5 million
  • 2017 — The Shack — $16.1 million
  • 2016 — Miracles from Heaven — $14.8 million
  • 2016 — Risen — $11.8 million
  • 2015 — War Room — $11.4 million
  • 2016 — Ben-Hur — $11.2 million
  • 2011 — Soul Surfer — $10.6 million
  • 2014 — God’s Not Dead — $9.2 million

Based on its first weekend alone, The Shack is also already the 16th-highest-grossing “faith-based” film of all time:

  • 2004 — The Passion of the Christ — $370.8 million
  • 2014 — Heaven Is for Real — $91.4 million
  • 2015 — War Room — $67.8 million
  • 2016 — Miracles from Heaven — $61.7 million
  • 2014 — God’s Not Dead — $60.8 million
  • 2014 — Son of God — $59.7 million
  • 2011 — Soul Surfer — $43.9 million
  • 2006 — The Nativity Story — $37.6 million
  • 2016 — Risen — $36.9 million
  • 2011 — Courageous — $34.5 million
  • 2008 — Fireproof — $33.5 million
  • 2014 — When the Game Stands Tall — $30.1 million
  • 2016 — Ben-Hur — $26.4 million
  • 2002 — Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie — $25.6 million
  • 2016 — God’s Not Dead 2 — $20.8 million
  • 2017 — The Shack — $16.1 million
  • 2005 — The Gospel — $15.8 million
  • 2015 — Woodlawn — $14.4 million
  • 2014 — Left Behind — $14.0 million
  • 2006 — One Night with the King — $13.4 million

The Shack isn’t technically a “Bible film”, since it does not dramatize any stories from the Bible. However, it does feature Jesus as one of its main characters, so if we counted it as a “Bible film”, it would currently rank 14th among the Bible-themed films made over the past 40 years (before we adjust for inflation, natch):

  • 2004 — The Passion of the Christ — $370.8 million
  • 1998 — The Prince of Egypt — $101.4 million
  • 2014 — Noah — $101.2 million
  • 2014 — Exodus: Gods and Kings — $65 million
  • 2014 — Son of God — $59.7 million
  • 2009 — Year One — $43.3 million
  • 2006 — The Nativity Story — $37.6 million
  • 2016 — Risen — $36.9 million
  • 1981 — History of the World, Part I — $31.7 million
  • 2016 — Hail, Caesar! — $30.5 million
  • 2016 — Ben-Hur — $26.4 million
  • 2002 — Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie — $25.6 million
  • 1979 — Monty Python’s Life of Brian — $20 million
  • 2017 — The Shack — $16.1 million
  • 1980 — Wholly Moses! — $14.2 million
  • 2006 — One Night with the King — $13.4 million
  • 1988 — The Last Temptation of Christ — $8.4 million
  • 2016 — The Young Messiah — $6.5 million
  • 1985 — King David — $5.1 million
  • 2003 — The Gospel of John — $4.1 million

The Shack ranked third for the week, behind the premiere of Logan — the ninth and supposedly final film to star Hugh Jackman as one of the most iconic X-Men — and the second week of the hit horror-comedy Get Out.

Logan grossed $85.3 million, which, if estimates hold, would give it the fifth-highest first weekend in wide release of any R-rated film (behind Deadpool, The Matrix Reloaded, American Sniper and The Hangover Part II).

Get Out, for its part, made $26.1 million in its second week and has grossed $76 million in its first ten days, quickly becoming one of the biggest hits ever produced by micro-budget maestro Jason Blum (it currently ranks sixth, behind Split, Insidious Chapter 2 and the first three Paranormal Activity movies).

A third new film opened this week, to disappointing returns. Before I Fall — based on a young-adult novel about a teenager who relives the day of her death again and again — landed in fifth place for the week with only $4.9 million.

Meanwhile, in other box-office news…

The Lego Batman Movie earned $11.7 million and ranked fourth in its fourth week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $148.6 million. The film has earned another $108.2 million overseas, for a global total of $256.8 million.

John Wick: Chapter 2 earned $4.7 million and ranked sixth in its fourth week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $82.9 million. The film has earned another $61.5 million overseas, for a global total of $144.4 million.

(John Wick: Chapter 2 has far surpassed the original film, which earned $43 million domestic + $45.7 million overseas = $88.8 million worldwide in 2014.)

Hidden Figures earned $3.8 million and ranked seventh in its eleventh week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $158.8 million. The film has earned another $36.2 million overseas, for a global total of $195 million.

The Great Wall earned $3.51 million and ranked eighth in its third week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $41.3 million. The film has earned another $278.9 million overseas, for a global total of $320.2 million.

Fifty Shades Darker earned $3.48 million and ranked ninth in its fourth week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $109.9 million. The film has earned another $246.2 million overseas, for a global total of $356.1 million.

And La La Land earned $2.98 million and ranked tenth in its thirteenth week, thereby raising its domestic cume to $145.7 million. The film has earned another $250.7 million overseas, for a global total of $396.4 million.

Next week brings us Kong: Skull Island.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).