The film, which depicts the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of an agnostic Roman soldier, is on track to earn an estimated $11.8 million this weekend, which is behind the $55 million that Deadpool earned in its second week and the $12.5 million that Kung Fu Panda 3 earned in its fourth week.
Risen is virtually tied with last year’s War Room for the fourth-best opening ever for a “faith-based” movie, behind 2004’s The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million) and 2014’s Son of God ($25.6 million) and Heaven Is for Real ($22.5 million).
It is also behind the opening weekends of such biblical (loosely or otherwise) films as 1998’s The Prince of Egypt ($14.5 million), 2009’s Year One ($19.6 million) and 2014’s Noah ($43.7 million) and Exodus: Gods and Kings ($24.1 million).
Risen also marks the third-best opening for director Kevin Reynolds, behind the 1990s Kevin Costner vehicles Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($25.6 million) and Waterworld ($21.2 million), and the third-best opening for Joseph Fiennes, behind 2014’s Hercules ($29.8 million), in which he had a small role, and 2001’s Enemy at the Gates ($13.8 million), in which he shared top billing with Jude Law.
The question now is what kind of legs Risen will have in the weeks to come. Deadline reports that some observers think the film should have some staying power:
Despite opening lower than the $22.5M posted by Sony’s 2014 Lent title Heaven Is For Real (based on a New York Times bestseller), rival distribution suits are confident that Risen will perform strong throughout February and March. PostTrak showed older women in abundance yesterday at 55% femmes and 89% over 25. CinemaScore also shows a similar demo breakdown. Seventy-two percent of the audience said they’d recommend it to friends according to PostTrak. Critics are mixed on Risen at 59% Rotten, but it seems to have more believers among reviewers than Passion of The Christ did at 49%.
The second-biggest new movie this week was The Witch, a low-budget horror film that was endorsed by the Satanic Temple. It grossed $8.7 million for the weekend. Interestingly, one of the executive producers on The Witch is Chris Columbus — who also produced The Young Messiah, the year’s next big Bible movie.
Meanwhile, Hail, Caesar! — which partly concerns the making of a 1950s Bible movie — earned $2.6 million in its third weekend, for a total gross to date of $26.2 million. The film currently ranks 7th out of 17 films on the Coen brothers’ chart.
Finally, Deadpool has earned $235.4 million after just ten days, making it the fastest R-rated movie to reach that milestone and the 6th-highest-grossing R-rated movie ever in North America. This has some people wondering whether the raunchy superhero comedy could pass The Passion of the Christ, which grossed $370.8 million in 2004, to become the top-grossing R-rated movie ever in North America.
Deadpool has already passed The Passion of the Christ overseas, with its $256.5 million surpassing the Bible movie’s $241.1 million. At least 22 other R-rated films are ahead of both films overseas. The top-grossing R-rated film worldwide is currently The Matrix Reloaded, which earned $742.1 million globally back in 2003.