Another faith-based surprise is changing the Hollywood calculus. With its $11 million weekend, the Christian film “War Room” surpassed all box-office expectations, coming in a close second to the blockbuster hit “Straight Outta Compton,” this despite the fact that “War Room” was only being shown in 1,135 theaters as opposed to some major release competition that was being projected on 2,000 to 3,100 screens.
The handwriting was on the wall for the film when the “War Room” tally reached $3.9 million for the combined Thursday and Friday night showings.
Audiences are loving the inspirational movie, giving it the highest “A plus” rating on the CinemaScore survey. What is causing entertainment executives to really take note, though, is the substantial profit margin, especially when compared to a number of other studio-released films.
It was altogether logical, therefore, for Sony Pictures’s faith-based unit, Affirm Films, to take hold of the project’s reins. When measured against current Hollywood standards, the “War Room”’s $3 million production budget appears minuscule.
The movie is the fifth collaboration from filmmakers and brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who are best known for delivering to the public “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof,” and “Courageous.”
The big-screen triple-play has brought in a combined $87 million in box-office revenue, with a total production cost for all three films of only $2.6 million. A valuable brand appears to be solidly established now within the Christian community.
When the director-producer duo from Georgia decided to do a movie about the power of prayer, they likely knew that they were venturing into cinematic terrain that typically puts a frown on the faces of mainstream film critics. Rotten Tomatoes, the critic aggregation website for movies, recently posted a paltry 18 percent rating for “War Room.”
Examples of hyperbolic criticism coming from some of the elites in the film critic community include the following:
- The Boston Globe’s Tom Russo laments that the first two acts of the movie “are so heavy on broad pulpit pounding that it’s challenging to get swept along by the story’s message.”
- The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman opines that “the plot is an uninteresting melodrama with a tortoise’s pace, but this does allow the viewer plenty of time to scrutinize its odd logic.”
- The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Rechtshaffen writes, “Preachy doesn’t begin to describe ‘War Room,’ a mighty long-winded and wincingly overwrought domestic drama. . .”
- Film Journal International's Daniel Eagan compares the movie to “a term-life insurance infomercial” and evidently would have been a bit more chipper had the soundtrack been purged of “some of its Christian rock anthems.”
- The Austin Chronicle's Kimberley Jones has taken a secular gender-based stance in her review of the film, while simultaneously displaying a lack of understanding of a biblically based principle, in stating that the filmmakers “have further limited that audience by presenting an emphatically anti-feminist picture of faith . . . ”
Facts be known, the movie actually interweaves life lessons on the meaning of prayer, the power of perseverance, and the triumph of faith by relaying the story of how a family facing serious problems is able to confront issues and ultimately find resolution and peace.
The film's “War Room” title resonates with Christians and like-minded individuals who understand that this earthly realm is a battleground, one in which negative forces in the spiritual domain must be combated — just as in the military arena.
Through its characters, the movie is able to bring viewers to a place of understanding that within their grasp are the weapons needed to achieve victory under seemingly impossible circumstances.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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