Sure, it wasn’t the biggest movie opening last weekend, (That honor went to Divergent which made $56 million), but Pure Flix’s faith-based movie God’s Not Dead made a fairly big splash anyway and people are noticing including Entertainment Weekly. “The biggest surprise of the weekend is undoubtedly the success of God’s Not Dead, an inspirational drama about a college student who defends his belief in God against a non-believing professor,” said Adam Markovitz on the magazine’s website on Monday. “With no marquee stars (Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain appear in the film, as does Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson) and little mainstream press, the film earned $8.6 million from just 780 theaters.” Variety also referred to the movie as the “biggest shocker” of the week.
This is similar to the success of the 2012 faith-based film, October Baby. When that film debuted in March of that year, it came in 8th place making just $1.7 million its opening weekend, but its competition was shown in ten times as many theaters. In both cases the movies were promoted mostly by word-of-mouth through social media. For instance, I wrote an article about God’s Not Dead last November (‘God’s Not Dead’ – 4 Reasons to Support this Film) and someone from Pure Flix liked it and sent out a “tweet” on Twitter with a link to the article. To this day, I receive one or two tweets that someone has favorited the tweet or is reposting a Pinterest photo of the movie’s poster. Apparently bargain basement advertising can work. It doesn’t hurt that the movie’s theme song has already been a hit for Newsboys and many are aware of it.
Ironically, Pure Flix’s website is taking the humble approach with no box office bragging. Only a splash page telling everyone that the film is playing now. Make no mistake; this is a big deal for the Arizona company. Led by actor and managing partner David A. R. White (who also has a small role in the film), Pure Flix is known for making many movies each year, but most get sent directly to video. However, the Pure Flix Facebook page, which have over 1 million “likes” did provide a link to a press release yesterday about the. It states that the movie will be extended to about 1,000 theaters for this coming weekend. In the press release he is quoted as saying, “Demand for God’s Not Dead in the faith-based community has been significant because the message is culturally relevant to millions of Americans.”
There is much talk about how Hollywood has embraced biblical themes as of late. Son of God opened with $25.6 million during its opening week and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has been so controversial, that it is bound to do well this weekend. Right on their heels is Heaven is for Real which will be playing Easter weekend. Let’s see how long this trend will last.