Two years after their faith-based drama centered on a song shocked box office prognosticators, the brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin are back with I Still Believe. This follow-up is also catering to Christian audiences and has a musical inspiration. A biographical story focused on singer Jeremy Camp, the pic finds KJ Apa playing him with a supporting cast including Britt Robertson, Gary Sinise, and Shania Twain.
The aforementioned feature from the Erwins was I Can Only Imagine and it certainly impressed moviegoers much. Released in the same mid March frame, Imagine took in an unexpected $17 million out of the gate and $83 million overall domestically. That was with a meager $7 million budget.
Believe hits IMAX screens next Wednesday with the traditional wide release on Friday. Faith-based flicks are hard to project and we have seen examples of over and under performances in recent times. Yet with the pedigree involved, I can easily believe this gets close or matches to what Imagine accomplished 2018. With the two extra days of release on the giant screen format, I’ll put it just under.
I Still Believe opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million
The brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s brand of faith based features have had an impressive road to box office success. They hope to continue that trend next weekend with Overcomer. The sports themed drama is Alex’s directorial follow-up to 2015’s WarRoom, which shocked prognosticators with its eventual earnings. Stephen serves as co-writer for the screenplay with Alex in the starring role and costars including Priscilla Shirer and Shari Rigby.
Prior to WarRoom, the Kendricks Fireproof and Courageous both topped $30 million domestically. Room took them to a new level with an $11 million start as it legged out impressively to $67 million.
If Overcomer were to hit double digits, it won’t be as surprising as their previous hit. I’ll say it misses that mark, but it’s certainly in the realm of possibility.
Overcomer opening weekend prediction: $7.4 million
Disney is putting their faith over the Easter weekend in Breakthrough, a Christian drama based on the 2017 novel TheImpossible. Based on true events, the pic tells the story of a teenager who slips into a frozen lake and his miraculous recovery. Directed by Roxann Dawson in her feature debut, Breakthrough stars Chrissy Metz (of TV’s “This Is Us” fame), Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Marcel Ruiz, and Dennis Haysbert. NBA champion Stephen Curry has an exec producer credit.
This is actually the first 20th Century Fox production that its new owner Disney is distributing. That well publicized partnership could get off to a solid start if faith-based audiences turn out. The holiday timing should certainly work to its advantage.
An obvious comp is HeavenIsforReal from five Easter’s ago. Like Breakthrough, it also premiered on Wednesday. Taking in $22.5 million over the traditional weekend and $29.5 million over the five-day span, Heaven eventually soared to $91 million overall.
I’ll say this falls a bit lower with the caveat that it could achieve similar numbers. My five-day projection puts it a touch below the three-day of Heaven. That could put this at #2 behind TheCurseofLa Llorona, which deals with religious themes in a drastically different manner.
Breakthrough opening weekend prediction: $16.9 million (Friday to Sunday), $22 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For my TheCurseofLaLlorona prediction, click here:
Blogger’s Note (10/22/18): Hours after publication of this post, a theater count of approximately 830 screens was revealed. That means a revision down from $1.7 million to just $1 million
The latest Pure Flix drama Indivisible hits theaters this weekend and the faith-based pic is likely to follow in the footsteps of the studio’s most recent output. It’s the true story of an Army chaplain stationed in Iraq. David G. Evans directs with a cast including Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Jason Winston George, Madeline Carroll, and Michael O’Neill. I’m not sure how much of a coincidence it is, but many of the actors here have appeared on the long-running ABC hit “Grey’s Anatomy”.
We don’t have a theater count yet on Indivisible and that will be a determining factor in my prediction. However, looking at recent Pure Flix material, 1300-1600 screens is probable. That would fall in line with four of their releases in the past year: Same Kind of Different as Me, Samson, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, and last month’s Unbroken: Path to Redemption. Between those four pictures, their opening weekend grosses ranged between a consistent $1.9-$2.6 million. If this were to debut with less screens that, my forecast will be revised down.
I see no major reason to alter the formula much here. I’ll go on the lower end of that small spectrum since it’s not a sequel like God’s Not Dead and Unbroken.
Indivisible opening weekend prediction: $1 million
This weekend, Harold Cronk (director of God’s Not Dead and its first sequel) has the faith-based war drama God Bless the Broken Road opening in theaters. Next weekend, the busy filmmaker releases Unbroken: Path to Redemption. It is deemed a “spiritual sequel” to 2014’s Unbroken. Pure Flix Entertainment is the distributor and I have a feeling we are about to see one of the largest opening weekend disparities from predecessor to follow-up.
Four years ago, Angelina Jolie made the first entry. It opened on Christmas Day and took in $46 million over the holiday weekend with an eventual domestic haul of $115 million. None of the principles behind that hit are back. Samuel Hunt takes over the lead role that Jack O’Connell played and the supporting cast includes Merritt Patterson, Vanessa Bell Calloway (most known as Eddie Murphy’s arranged wife 30 years ago in Coming to America), Bob Gunton, Gary Cole and evangelist Will Graham (who plays his late grandfather Billy).
I’m not so sure moviegoers are even aware of this sequel’s existence. Redemption is currently slated to premiere on a rather low 1200 screens. I have this weekend’s Harold Cronk movie (Broken Road) estimated at $2.1 million. I’ll bump this one a tad bit more, but not by much.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption opening weekend prediction: $2.5 million
This Friday, the faith-based military drama GodBlesstheBrokenRoad parks in approximately 1200 theaters. To say the pic has an eclectic mix of participants is an understatement. Harold Cronk directs and he’s responsible for distributor Freestyle Releasing largest hit God’sNotDead and its sequel. It’s based on a song made known by country band Rascal Flatts (which automatically causes me to point out that they hail from my home of Columbus, Ohio). And the cast includes Lindsay Pulsipher, Jordin Sparks, Robin Givens, and former NFL superstar LaDainian Tomlinson.
Quite the grouping, huh? The low number of theaters certainly limits its prospects. That said, pics geared toward Christian audiences can often surprise. We all saw a huge example of that earlier this year when ICanOnlyImagine (also based on a song) demolished all expectations.
I don’t see this happening. I think the road for this ends with $3 million as a likely ceiling and I’ll go under that.
GodBlesstheBrokenRoad opening weekend prediction: $2.1 million
Focus Features and acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders team up for the documentary PopeFrancis: AManofHisWord next weekend. The pic focuses on the 266th and current pontiff and looks to bring in stateside Catholics for a high per screen average.
It could certainly be rather successful in doing so. The doc is slated to be released on a rather low 350 theaters, but it could certainly achieve the third largest per screen gross behind Deadpool2 and Avengers: InfinityWar.
If this manages to do around what RBG (the documentary about United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg) did this past weekend on an individual theater basis, that would put Pope at a bit over $2 million.
PopeFrancis: AManofHisWord opening weekend prediction: $2.3 million
This Easter weekend, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness debuts in theaters. It is the third Christian themed drama in a franchise that began four years ago. Michael Mason directs a cast that includes David A.R. White, John Corbett, Shane Harper, Ted McGinley, Jennifer Taylor, Tatum O’Neal, rapper Shwayze, and Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney).
The Pure Flix release finds itself in direct competition with some similar genre fare. This is the third faith-based release in as many weeks. I Can Only Imagine will be in its third weekend and Paul, Apostle of Christ in its second. In 2014, God’s Not Dead premiered to $9.2 million and legged out splendidly to a $60 million domestic gross. Two years later, God’s Not Dead 2 couldn’t match it with a $7.6 million debut and only a $20 million overall total.
Even with the advantage of the Easter opening, the competition and dwindling fortune of part 2 could hinder this. I’ll predict it continues that downward trajectory.
God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million
Blogger’s Note (03/19): The reported 1400 theater count has caused me to downsize my Apostle prediction from $10.3 million to just $5.5 million.
Rising in theaters a week before the Easter holiday frame is Paul, ApostleofChrist. The Biblical drama casts Jim Faulkner as Saint Paul and Jim Caviezel as Saint Luke. The supporting cast includes Olivier Martinez and Joanne Whalley. Andrew Wyatt directs.
Faith based pictures are often tricky to project, but its pre Easter release date should only help. It also doesn’t hurt that Caviezel starred in the highest grossing (by far) genre entry, 2004’s ThePassionoftheChrist.
There is some competition for the same audience as the more contemporary Christian themed ICanOnlyImagine will be in its sophomore weekend. A decent comp for Apostle could be 2016’s Risen, which earned $11.8 million for its beginning. I’ll put it a bit under that.
Paul, ApostleofChrist opening weekend prediction: $5.5 million
Blogger’s Note (03/14/18): I am revisiting my estimate considerably upwards to $5.4 million
Playing in theaters next weekend is the faith based drama ICanOnlyImagine, which tells the story behind the making of the most popular Christian contemporary song of all time. The song shares the title of the film from the band MercyMe with J. Michael Finley as lead singer Bart Millard. Costars include Dennis Quaid, Cloris Leachman, and Trace Adkins. The directors are Andrew and Jon Erwin, makers of Woodlawn and Moms’ NightOut.
I’ve yet to see a theater count for Imagine, but I would guess it’ll be relatively low at about 1,000. This genre has shown the ability to over perform estimates. That said, this one seems to be generating rather meager buzz. The Erwin brothers have seen their previous two outings make about $4 million for their starts. I’ll predict Imagine doesn’t quite reach that number.
ICanOnlyImagine opening weekend prediction: $5.4 million