Hollywood surprised again by the Kendrick brothers
by Megan Basham
Posted on Monday, August 31, 2015, at 4:55 pm
You have to wonder how many box office hits Alex and Stephen Kendrick are going to have to produce before Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and other mainstream entertainment news outlets stop reporting that their latest film “stunned box office watchers” by “doing far better than expected.”
There’s no reason anyone who pays even the slightest attention to movie trends shouldn’t have guessed that War Room—the Kendrick brothers’ first release since forming a production company independent of Albany, Ga.’s Sherwood Baptist Church—would debut to impressive numbers. Every movie the Kendricks have made so far has shown a serious return on investment. Fireproof, made in 2008 for only $500,000, went on to earn $33.5 million. 2011’s Courageous had a budget of just $2 million yet made $34.5 million domestically. All told, the Kendricks have scored $87 million in ticket sales with their last three films based on viewership made up almost entirely of churchgoers hungry to see their beliefs reflected on the big screen.
So there was little surprising about this weekend’s numbers. Though it opened in only 1,135 theaters, mostly in the South and Midwest, War Room made $11 million and nearly beat the weekend’s box office champ, the R-rated Straight Outta Compton, which played on nearly three times as many screens.
With this kind of indie track record, if the Kendricks were telling anything other than biblically themed, faith-firming stories, some studio would have already signed them up to direct a $150 million–plus superhero reboot.
Yet, Box Office Mojo reports that War Room, which tells the story of a woman who learns to fight for her marriage and family through prayer, “flew so far under the radar that it didn’t even get a Cinemascore” (a common survey of film audiences that assigns letter grades based on their reactions). The Wrap, a popular entertainment insider news site, notes that War Room is poised to become a “sleeper hit” (perhaps because their analysts slept through the results for all those other Kendrick movies?)
As we’ve seen time and again in the last several years, when it comes to Christian movies and Hollywood, money doesn’t talk.
Megan is film and television editor for WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All. Megan resides with her husband, Brian Basham, and their two daughters in Charlotte, N.C. Follow her on Twitter on @megbasham.