ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Color Me Wrong On "Fireproof"

This is a movie that is so low budget that it stars Kirk Cameron, while his female lead is an actress who took a leave of absense from performing at Disney World to do the film.

It opened on only 839 screens, and its presence out here in LA is about as small as the teeny ads for it.

I thought it would tank.

Nope.

It made $6.8 million over the weekend, good for 4th place -- and it almost edged Lakeview Terrace for third.

It did twice as much as Spike Lee's heavily-advertised movie did -- and that movie opened on almost 300 more screens.

The secret?

The Christian audience.

Filmmakers have been trying to tap into it for a while now, and there is a history of Biblical movies doing well.

But this film is different -- it's a marital drama. It's about a husband trying to save his marriage, and asking God for help.

(Though it probably helps too that he is a fireman, so they had some exciting rescue scenes to put in the trailer).

Obviously there are communities where this film is doing very well, where religious leaders are spreading the word and getting the audience out.

It'll be interesting to see if the movie has legs. Probably not; it'll be lucky if it makes much over $15 million total.

But that's good enough to inspire a flood of this kind of movie. Be interesting to see if the number of scripts I see with a religious edge (which is really extremely low) takes any kind of untick.

*******

Otherwise EAGLE EYE did a very solid $29.1 million, while NIGHTS IN RODANTHE gave a nice kick to the romance genre by bringing in a pretty impressive $13.4 million.

On the other side of the spectrum, THE LUCKY ONES, starring Tim Robbins and Rachel McAdams as veterans returning home from Iraq, opened on about half of the theaters that FIREPROOF did, and did only 1/40th of the box office, bringing in only $183,000.

The audience's near-complete disinterest in seeing anything involving the Iraq War continues.

10 Comments:

At 12:43 PM, Blogger wcmartell said...

FIREPROOF was *way* ahead of EAGLE EYE in advanced ticket sales... so I think this was its weekend.

The problem is - word of mouth is probably not going to help a second weekend, because the Christian audience is kind of insulated as far as movies go. These may be once a year viewers, so they don't talk movies with co-workers every Monday at the water cooler.

Another factor - entertainment. The target audience for FIREPROOF may be more interested in the message than the mainstream audience. That *really* limits cross over. So even if someone tells me about FIREPROOF at work and I see it... I may not like it, and that kills the WOM chain.

The key to Christian movies (or any niche) is to make a film that appeals to everyone *plus* is a Christain movie. That way you're not just preaching to the converted... but the heathens who go to the cinema every weekend.

- Bill

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

Also within the fundamentalist Christian community Kirk Cameron is an A-list star.

 
At 5:32 PM, Blogger Chesher Cat said...

"The key to Christian movies (or any niche) is to make a film that appeals to everyone *plus* is a Christain movie. That way you're not just preaching to the converted... but the heathens who go to the cinema every weekend."

Juno.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

WCMartell, my pastor showed a scene from "The Matrix" (where Morpheus meets Neo for the first time) to help bring out a point he wanted to make.

THE CHRISTIAN AUDIENCE out there is VERY, VERY AWARE of movies. Here's how I would summarize their main beef with movies these days:

A lot of movies being shown these days deals with morally objectionable material, and portray evil as being more attractive than good.

"The key to Christian movies (or any niche) is to make a film that appeals to everyone *plus* is a Christain movie. That way you're not just preaching to the converted... but the heathens who go to the cinema every weekend."

I agree in part. I think mass appeal is a good thing, especially when attempting to infuse a religous plot or subplot in a movie. NO Christian I know consider those who go to the movies as being heathens. In fact MOST churches I know go way-way out there to appeal to those unfamiliar with Christian doctrine and make them feel welcome.

Bill, I love the fact you feel comfortable enough to voice your opinions. Especially on a subject that can make some people totally flip out. You're a very knowledgible fellow. And I love hearing your theories about how things pertaining to the movies work.

I highly encourage ANY screenwriter to use Christian based themes and stories in your own stories. The bible is ripe with storiest that have life lessons in them. Life lessons that transend one's choice of religion.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Joshua James said...

And can I put in a plug for another movie about religion that's going to open?

Religuosity, the Bill Maher documentary.

Can't wait.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

I'm a Muslim and I'm not comfortable with filmmakers using Christian themes and trying to shove it down my throat. It's such a huge insult for many Americans who are NOT Christian.

but hey that's just me. so whatever.

P.S-- I hate Kirk Cameron.

 
At 1:32 AM, Blogger Lex Sportiva said...

Kirk Cameron is dumber than a box of pop rocks.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Christian M. Howell said...

That is interesting that a religious themed movie had such a high average.
Bill, I think that's every movie. I mean any movie should be have wide appeal first and then a theme second...or third, maybe fourth.

But if we put a "label" on it because a person looks for faith in something, it's a mistake. That may take away its legs as people don't want to be preached to.

 
At 12:23 AM, Blogger Matt said...

"I'm a Muslim and I'm not comfortable with filmmakers using Christian themes and trying to shove it down my throat. It's such a huge insult for many Americans who are NOT Christian. "

I'm not really sure how by making a film with Christian themes they are shoving it down anyones throat. It's like people that say violent movies are shoved down their throat. Or actors talking politics are shoved down their throat.

Change the channel. Don't watch the movie. Don't pay your eight bucks to enter the theater. It's real simple.

I'm not a Christian. Im an atheist. But they have every right to make a movie that involves their personal beliefs. Just as Bill Maher has the right to make a movie about his lack of religious beliefs.

 
At 10:13 PM, Anonymous patrick said...

I just got back from watching Fireproof... it was great to see such a different-flavored movie on the regular, big screen; this occurred to me during a quiet moment in the movie, when pain-filled screams came through the wall from Saw 5, just next door.

 

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