Filmmakers sue God’s Not Dead producers for $100 million

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God’s Not Dead was a big hit at the box office two years ago. Produced for only $2 million, it grossed over $60 million in North America alone — nearly double what any independent faith-based movie not directed by Mel Gibson had done by then.

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Box office: God’s Not Dead 2 and Batman v Superman both perform below (their not-high-to-begin-with) expectations

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It was a weekend of setbacks for “faith-based” films and superhero movies.

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Review: God’s Not Dead 2 (dir. Harold Cronk, 2016)

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There’s a joke waiting to be told in the fact that God’s Not Dead 2 is coming out on April Fool’s Day. The Psalms suggest it takes a fool to say in his heart that there is no God, so perhaps the filmmakers thought they were having a private laugh at the unbeliever’s expense when they picked the release date. Thing is, given all the sloppy apologetics, preachy dialogue and silly plot contortions that lie within this “faith-based” film, it isn’t the atheists who come out looking foolish in the end.

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Watch: Five TV spots for Risen, plus an endorsement from the author of the book that inspired God’s Not Dead

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Risen had a decent first weekend at the North American box office, so now the studio is doing what it can to encourage good word of mouth — not only to help keep the movie in local theatres for a while, but to help it roll out overseas as well.

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Box-office update: Persecuted is another “faith-based” dud

The “faith-based” genre produced another dud this past weekend. Persecuted — in which an evangelist is framed for murder by a corrupt politician, thereby unleashing “an unprecedented era of persecution” — opened to a measly $851,391 on 736 screens this week.

The film ranked #19 at the box office. Four of the films that ranked above it actually played on fewer screens (Think Like a Man Too, Edge of Tomorrow, Chef and especially Boyhood), and the film’s $1,157 per-screen average was the second-lowest in the top 25.

This comes just five weeks after the once-hyped Alone Yet Not Alone opened to $534,626 — on only 103 screens! — before sputtering out with less than a million bucks altogether. (The film had earned $887,851 as of July 2, and presumably not much more since then.)

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Box-office update: Poor July 4 attendance affects two movies with a faith hook that are not “faith-based” movies

From the controversy surrounding Alone Yet Not Alone in January to the release of Moms’ Night Out in May, there’s been a lot of talk this year about “faith-based” movies, a genre that apparently covers everything from low-budget Christian propaganda to big-budget Bible movies with a distinctly Jewish sensibility. Curiously, though, one of the most faith-oriented films of the year came out this past week, and no one thought to group it in with the rest.

Well, perhaps it’s not that curious. Deliver Us from Evil, based on a book by retired NYPD sergeant Ralph Sarchie and directed by horror-movie expert Scott Derrickson, may have been made by openly Christian people — see this featurette on Sarchie and my 2005 interview with Derrickon for more on that — but the film is rated R, and it earns that rating with lots of four-letter words and disturbing images. So for those who are inclined to think that “faith-based” films are synonymous with “family” films and the like, there was never any question of putting this film in that category.

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