Entertainment Weekly called it a “sleeper hit” and when a Christian movie catches the secular media’s attention you know its shocking everybody, including Hollywood.
Refusing to follow Hollywood’s script of sex and violence, the name of the movie aside, the Kendrick brother’s, Alex and Stephen, latest movie is on a record-setting pace. War Room sold an amazing $11.4 million worth of tickets this past weekend, blasting through the brothers’ belief that $10 million would exceed their wildest expectations.
The movie was second only to Straight Outta Compton a profanity laced hip hop movie that grossed $13 million.
War Room, with only a PG rating, managed to exceed $11 million without swearing, violence, sex, and a star filled cast and while only showing in 1,100 theaters across the US. Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation starring Tom Cruise was in over 3,000 outlets but only earned $8 million that same weekend.
The Christian movie is on course to surpass Fireproof, another faith movie the Kendricks’ released in 2008. With sales of $33 million, it was the top grossing independent film that year. The Kendrick brothers, both ordained ministers from Georgia, have released two other movies Courageous (2011) and Facing the Giants. (2006).
War Room was the first Kendrick movie to hit double figures on its opening weekend. Speaking about its success, Stephen Kendrick said:
“God totally gets the credit for what’s happening. Thousands of people have been praying for this movie.”
War Room is about a black couple’s struggle to save their marriage. Priscilla Shirer stars as wife Elizabeth Jordan, a real estate agent, who is mad at her husband Tony, played by TC Stallings.
With their marriage is in trouble and Tony considering an affair, Elizabeth meets Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), a prayer warrior who finds out about the Jordan’s marriage difficulties and mentors Elizabeth to start fighting through prayer for her husband and family.
War Room gets its name from a closet that Miss Clara has set aside in her own home to pray. She encourages Elizabeth to do the same and declares the young, struggling wife a prayer warrior as she engages in spiritual warfare.
Writing for Charisma News, J. Lee Grady says:
“I don’t know of any film that portrays the power of prayer like War Room…. This movie is unabashedly Christian and might as well be rated P-I for politically incorrect.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Alex Kendrick, who also directed the movie, said:
“This movie calls people to make prayer a priority and we believe its something our culture and our nation really needs — to turn back to God and seek Him in prayer.”
Predictably the critics hate its Christian message.
On the website, Rotten Tomatoes, which provides a popular rating service for movies, the critics lambasted the movie giving it only a 30% like. Meanwhile, on the viewer side, 91% people liked the film — you know the ones who bought a ticket and went to the film making it the second highest grossing film of the past weekend. The line on the ledger that Hollywood takes note of.
But not all critics hated it. Rotten Tomatoes ‘Top Critic’ Joe Leydon from Variety gave it a like writing:
“Yet another faith-based indie that upended the expectations of box office prognosticators by scoring a bountiful opening-weekend gross, “War Room” is by far the most slickly produced and insistently evangelical movie yet from the sibling team of Alex and Stephen Kendrick.”
CinemaScore which also ranks the move based on audience feedback awarded the movie an ‘A+’.
However, what they really note is the cost to revenue ratio. With a budget of only $3.5 million, the Kendrick brothers are showing there is a market for true faith movies and potential for profit. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation cost $150 million to produce.