Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. Courageous stats. The box office strength of faith-based films continues to surprise Hollywood.  Here are some interesting numbers regarding Courageous, the new Sherwood Pictures release about cops struggling with gang violence and their own parental responsibilities.

ONE: That’s its among new movies debuting over the weekend. The final tally has Courageous beating out Summit Entertainment’s 50/50, Universal’s Dream House and Fox’s What’s Your Number?

FOUR:  That’s the movie’s ranking among all movies in the country last weekend. It was beaten only by three extremely popular holdovers that include Warner Bros.’ Dolphin Tale, Sony’s Moneyball  and the 3-D version of Disney’s 17-year-old family classic The Lion King. Dolphin Tale, BTW, was also an uplifting family film aimed at families. Even the PG-13-rated Moneyball  had a certain family appeal.

ONE MILLION PLUS: That’s how many people saw Courageous in theaters over the weekend.

NINE-MILLION PLUS: That’s the number of dollars Courageous earned in its opening weekend. That’s also more two-million dollars north of what Sherwood Pictures’ Fireproof  raked in during its first weekend in 2008. Fireproof, went on to become that year’s top-grossing independently-produced film.

Here’s where the above numbers become even more astounding.

7,806: According to Box Office Mojo, that’s the number of bucks Courageous pulled in per screen. That’s nearly double its closest competitor (The Lion King). FYI, Courageous opened in 1,161 theaters nationally. Compare that to how many theaters its competition was playing in:  A Dolphin Tale (3,515), Moneyball (2,993), The Lion King (2,340), 50/50 (2,458), Dream House (2,661) and What’s Your Number? (3,002).

254,309: As of this posting, that’s the number of “likes” on the Courageous Facebook page.

A+: Okay, not a number — but that’s the impressive (and, relatively, rare) grade Courageous received from audience-goers  polled by CinemaScore. That’s a strong signal that word-of-mouth is likely to propel the movie to healthy box office numbers in the coming weeks. In other words, Courageous appears to have legs.

Richard Corliss of may have summed things up best in its recap of the weekend box office headlined “Surprise! Dolphins and Jesus Beat Cancer and Dead Kids.” Corliss wrote: “Like the Christian-themed Soul Surfer, the (Alex) Kendrick’s holy-cop film (with a $1-million budget) was pitched to the faithful, who came out fervently this weekend and gave it an A-plus CinemaScore. Opening in just 1,161 theaters, Courageous had the top per-screen average of any movie in the top 25. Even an agnostic would call that heavenly.”

The evidence is becoming harder for Hollywood to ignore. The audience is hungry for faith-friendly entertainment. The time is coming when even “edgy” obsessed TV executives will have to get with the times and stop shoving bombs like the  Playboy Club at audiences that are seeking something a bit more uplifting than a bunny’s bra.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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