War Room has set another milestone.
Stephen Kendrick and his brother Alex made waves in a big way when their second film, Facing the Giants, grossed $10 million nationwide despite being produced on a shoestring by an almost all-volunteer crew. Their next two films were even bigger successes, and now their fifth film — War Room, produced for a reported $3 million — has earned over $50 million in its first four weeks. It has also earned a place in the history books as the first Evangelical Christian movie to be #1 at the box office.
Might as well note this milestone: In 1999, The Omega Code stunned the movie world by becoming the first evangelical Christian movie to crack the weekly box-office top ten. Now, in 2015, War Room has become the first such film to reach #1.
Filmmaking is a family affair for many writers, directors and producers. One thinks of the Coens, the Wachowskis, the Farrellys, and other siblings who collaborate on films. This phenomenon extends even to the Christian filmmaking subculture, with fraternal teams like Alex and Stephen Kendrick (Courageous), Bobby and Kevin Downes (The Moment After) and Jon and Andrew Erwin (Moms’ Night Out).
In my review of God’s Not Dead, I made a point of contrasting the “Christian ghetto” approach of that film with the more open-minded “Christian niche” approach of films like the ones made by Alex and Stephen Kendrick (Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous).
So I figured it might be good to round up the various articles that I have written about the Kendricks and their films; the list includes two op-ed pieces, a review, and several interviews with the filmmakers and their collaborators.
Warning: This review will discuss several major spoilers, including the ending.
Christian films have a bad reputation, and it is often quite justified. But as one who has been involved with church-drama ministries and the like, I have never been able to dismiss the genre entirely. And that’s why I have made a point of trying to look for the positive elements in films like, say, the ones produced by the Kendrick brothers (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous).
As I have argued before, there is nothing wrong with a Christian “niche”. Christians, like other groups of people, have special needs and interests, and sometimes they require special kinds of films that people outside our community won’t “get”.