War Room has set another milestone.
It already had the biggest opening weekend of any independent evangelical Christian movie ever, and it was already the first such film to be #1 at the box office.
Now, the fifth film from Alex and Stephen Kendrick has become the top-grossing independent evangelical Christian movie ever in North America.
As of yesterday, War Room had taken in $60.84 million at the North American box office, which edges out the $60.76 million earned last year by God’s Not Dead.1
This makes War Room the third consecutive Kendrick brothers movie to set a new record for top-grossing independent evangelical movie, following 2011’s Courageous and 2008’s Fireproof, both of which did it by grossing just over $33 million.
All of the Kendrick brothers’ movies have been produced for $3 million or less — sometimes much less — and the consistent profitability of their films arguably puts the Kendricks in the same league as “microbudget” horror movie producer Jason Blum.
In fact, with the exceptions of Paranormal Activity ($107.9 million) and, for now, The Purge ($64.5 million), War Room has outgrossed all of Blum’s non-sequels.
War Room, which features African-American characters in all the key roles, has also outgrossed all but three of Tyler Perry’s movies, and could easily pass two more.
Other “faith-based” films released since War Room came to theatres August 28 have not been doing that well at the box office.
The next big “faith-based” release will be Woodlawn, which comes out October 16.
The makers of that film have been promoting it pretty strongly — I attended a preview screening a few weeks ago — and two weeks ago they got The Bible producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to sign on as “executive producers”.
Burnett and Downey were not involved in the actual making of Woodlawn, but they have since started pushing it in social media and in videos such as this one:
It remains to be seen how much of a boost the film will get from Burnett and Downey’s endorsement. The couple had a huge success last year with Son of God, which grossed $59.7 million even though it consisted almost entirely of footage recycled from The Bible, but their World War II drama Little Boy earned only $6.5 million.
War Room, for its part, still has room to rake in a little more money at the box office. The film was still in the top ten this past weekend, after six weeks in theatres.
I interviewed War Room producer and co-writer Stephen Kendrick a few weeks ago, before the film’s Canadian release. You can read that interview here.
1. Box Office Mojo puts War Room at #6 on its list of “Christian” movies, but of the top five films on that list, one (The Passion of the Christ) was Catholic, while the others (the Narnia trilogy and Heaven Is for Real) were all big-studio productions that watered down the Christian content of their source material.
2. 90 Minutes in Heaven was released nationwide in both the U.S. and Canada, while Captive — despite being released by Paramount — was limited to the U.S. and a single Canadian city, i.e. Toronto.