Todd Cunningham, THE WRAP
(TheWrap.com) — The last week in August is not a prime movie release slot, but there’s one new opener on Friday that is primed to exceed expectations: “War Room,” the latest Christian-themed feature by Georgia-based filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick.
The brothers have emerged as the most commercially successful independent producers of faith-based films. Their last three previous movies — 2006’s “Facing the Giants,” 2008’s “Fireproof,” which was the highest-grossing indie that year, and 2011’s “Courageous” — have taken in $87 million at the box office on a combined budget of $2.6 million.
“War Room,” with a more ambitious $3 million budget, is on track to gross $4 million to $5 million with its debut nationwide in a modest 1,100 theaters via Affirm Films, Sony’s Christian label.
They have evolved in their commercial approach and have done what has been the goal of many in the faith-based movie market: They are seen as successful filmmakers that happen to be Christians,” industry analyst Seth Willenson told TheWrap.
With “War Room,” the Kendricks have utilized the same formula that made those films hits: a hyper-tight budget and grassroots mobilizing of churchgoers via special screenings with pastors. The marketing has increasingly become narrowly focused and social media-heavy, but mainstream awareness of their films seems to be growing.
The biggest twist with the new film is its primarily African-American cast — T.C. Stallings and New York Times best-selling Christian author Priscilla Shirer star as a middle-aged couple struggling in their marriage until they meet a stranger (Karen Abercrombie) points out the power of prayer.