Box office: Redeeming Love opens small, but is the top new movie

Box office: Redeeming Love opens small, but is the top new movie January 23, 2022

Redeeming Love didn’t exactly light up the box office this week, but it had the distinction of being the top new movie in a week that was slow even by pandemic standards.

Redeeming Love earned an estimated $3.7 million between Friday and Sunday, which was enough to make it the 4th-highest-grossing movie of the weekend — and the top non-sequel — behind the eighth live-action Spider-Man (now in week six), the fifth Scream (now in week two), and the second Sing (now in week five).

The film, which opened in 1,903 theatres, also managed a $1,949-per-screen average, which ranked third for the weekend, behind Spider-Man and Scream.

But if that’s the silver lining, the cloud as a whole is a lot darker. Redeeming Love, which was distributed by Universal, had one of the lowest openings of any “faith-based” film to get a wide release from a major studio, and it even had a smaller first weekend than Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers, which was going to be a two-nights-only release last month but was so popular it stayed in theatres for weeks.

The overall box office did pretty badly, too. As Tom Brueggeman notes at IndieWire:

All told, theaters grossed $47 million this weekend, which represents 39 percent of same 2020 weekend. The rolling four-week comparison against 2020 now stands at 49 percent. (In January 2020, the pandemic was known largely as a headline out of China.) With what’s available, that is about as good as can be expected.

That 49%-of-two-years-ago stat is part of a recurring trend over the past few months. Ticket sales surged in October — when there were new Venom, James Bond, and Dune movies — and they surged again in December when Spider-Man: No Way Home came out, but otherwise the comparisons to pre-Covid times have been pretty bleak.

Working backwards to the beginning of December, the previous rolling-four-week comparisons were 59%, 76%, 73% (New Year’s), 73% (Christmas), 65% (Spider-Man: No Way Home’s opening weekend), 48%, and 54% in the first week of December — which, as Brueggeman noted at the time, was “the lowest figure since mid-August”.

So this week nearly beat the second week of December (when Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story came out) for the lowest two-years-ago comparison since last summer. And with no wide releases planned at all for next week — not since Sony/Marvel’s Morbius got delayed a few weeks ago to April — the comparisons could get even worse.

In the meantime, we’ll just have to see what sort of staying power Redeeming Love has.

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Here is how Redeeming Love currently ranks at the North American box office next to other Bible-themed movies that have played in theatres over the past 43 years:

  1. 2004 — The Passion of the Christ — $370.8 million
  2. 1998 — The Prince of Egypt — $101.4 million
  3. 2014 — Noah — $101.2 million
  4. 2014 — Exodus: Gods and Kings — $65 million
  5. 2014 — Son of God — $59.7 million
  6. 2017 — The Shack — $57.4 million
  7. 2009 — Year One — $43.3 million
  8. 2017 — The Star — $40.9 million
  9. 2006 — The Nativity Story — $37.6 million
  10. 2016 — Risen — $36.9 million
  11. 1981 — History of the World, Part I — $31.7 million
  12. 2016 — Hail, Caesar! — $30.5 million
  13. 2016 — Ben-Hur — $26.4 million
  14. 2002 — Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie — $25.6 million
  15. 1979 — Monty Python’s Life of Brian — $20 million
  16. 2018 — Paul, Apostle of Christ — $17.6 million
  17. 1980 — Wholly Moses! — $14.2 million
  18. 2021 — Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers — $13.7 Million
  19. 2006 — One Night with the King — $13.4 million
  20. 1988 — The Last Temptation of Christ — $8.4 million
  21. 2016 — The Young Messiah — $6.5 million
  22. 1985 — King David — $5.1 million
  23. 2018 — Samson — $4.7 million
  24. 2003 — The Gospel of John — $4.1 million
  25. 2022 — Redeeming Love — $3.7 million
  26. 2014 — The Song — $1.0 million
  27. 2007 — The Ten Commandments — $952,820
  28. 2018 — Mary Magdalene — $124,741

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