Church produced film 'Courageous' lights up box office on opening weekend
Produced by a Georgia church, “Courageous” opened in the number four slot last weekend.
October 4th, 2011
09:05 AM ET

Church produced film 'Courageous' lights up box office on opening weekend

By Gabe LaMonica, CNN

(CNN)– A Baptist church in Albany, Georgia, is getting Hollywood's attention - the church, Sherwood Baptist, has developed a movie-production operation, and its latest offering opened last weekend as the Number Four top money-grossing film in the country.

The Christian-themed film, "Courageous," was developed in connection with TriStar, Sony, and Provident Films. It is meant to inspire fathers to not leave their families, to love their children, to not fail.

"Courageous," which opened in just 1,161 theaters this past weekend, depicts four police officers who share a commonality both as fathers and in their effort to become better ones. The movie and its characters, played by amateur actors and members of Sherwood Baptist are enveloped in various ways in a devastating tragedy.

According to boxoffice.com, which tracks movie response nationwide, put "Courageous" at the fourth position for the weekend with gross revenues of just over $9 million. The fifth- and sixth-place movies ("50/50" and "Dreamhouse") both opened at far more theaters but did not come close to the weekend box-office income of "Courageous."

"Courageous" takes on a timely topic - fatherhood.

The National Fatherhood Initiative, an organization dedicated to "educating and engaging fathers across the country," lists wide-ranging adverse affects that correlate to children growing up in fatherless households. Fatherless households are common in the United States, and there is no causal evidence linking fatherless households to increased suicide rates, incarcerations, aggression, behavioral disorders, delinquency, criminal activity, confused identities, low achievement, and criminal activity.

But the correlating evidence is so strong that in a country where the most recent census lists 24 million children - one in three - living apart from their biological fathers, it is remiss to discount it.

"No matter what your scenario is - you're single or married or whatnot - we want to really inspire and encourage men to see the value of their role as a dad," says Alex Kendrick, the co-writer, director, and actor who plays the character Adam Mitchell in "Courageous."

Kendrick, who co-writes with his brother Steven, says, "The reason we put it in a law enforcement setting was that, as you know, a motto from law enforcement is to serve and protect, and then we drew a correlation to what a father is supposed to do."

"We drew that correlation and said, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if we put this in the context of police officers who are also dads, and they may be heroic on the streets but it also takes courage to be a great dad - not just a good enough dad.'"

Ken Bevel, who plays Nathan Hayes, a sheriffs' deputy in the film, says that everyone has a dad and can relate to a fatherhood story. "We just pray that this movie resonates in the hearts of men and women and families across the globe," he says.

"If you go to Sherwood (Baptist Church) on any given day you will see a bunch of people that are in the movie," says Bevel, who played Kirk Cameron's fellow firefighter in "Fireproof," the last film from Sherwood Pictures.

"Our desire is not to become the next movie-making sensation or to make millions and millions of dollars at the box office," he says, "our desire is to see hearts changed and families touched."

Kendrick's character, Adam Mitchell, makes a general statement over grilled steaks to his fellow officers in the movie: "Half of the fathers in this country are already failing," he says, "and I don't want to be one of them."

The Christians at Sherwood Baptist Church, says Kendrick, "want especially men to walk out of the movie theater saying, "This movie makes me want to be a better dad and really a better man as a model and mentor to my children.'"

"You will see a difference and it will make a difference in our culture," he says.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Georgia • Movies • United States

soundoff (1,517 Responses)
  1. Terri

    Jarrelle u referred to all as hypocrites. Speak for urself.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Atheists < Poo

      Can you 2 numnuts please hit the reply button? Also, Terri – we are all hypocrites at some point in our lives.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Amanda

      Atheist<Poo.... good point, reply button is needed 😉

      October 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • ControversialComment

      Just exchange numbers

      October 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  2. Terri

    For all of you non-believers, you must be curious to know if there really is a God because you're on this page talking all this non-sense just loving the response you get back from us believers cause you know u curious and want to believe but ur just in denial. Let me show you what its like to live for Christ. U know u want to feel Him too and that's why ur throwing out all this foolishness. Proverbs 1:7 reads: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.Hmmm...U unbelievers understand that huh! Look i want all to come to Christ and experience what i do everyday (goodness and mercy and love). Come on non-believers u can too, u know u want to.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • 500 Questions

      Thanks for your concern for my soul, Terri.

      I was Christian for over 30 years before I realized it was foolishness. There seems to be this idea promoted in churches that atheists and agnostics reject God because they're stupid, or angry, or running from God. It's not true, they do it because they realize religion is unreasonable. 10 years ago I never would've believed it, but they're right, they're absolutely right.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Patrick

      LOL! You sound like my Muslim friends.
      I can only speak for myself, but I am heavily involved in belief-based debates because I desire to keep this nation secular. I also wish to fight against those who would actively perpetuate myths of things not of this world.

      The idea that the leader of our nation may value this world less than their imaginary future world should scare the JC right out of anybody.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • What If


      I don't like to pile on you here, but as an ex-believer, I agree with 500 and Patrick.

      If, if, IF there is any kind of ultimate force behind the universe, there is no evidence that it is anything, I repeat, ANYTHING, like this primitive Middle Eastern desert god.

      I wish you peace. Enjoy the personal thrill that your belief gives you, but please don't proclaim that it is the one and only truth in the universe.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • sam

      Did you post this from your phone? It looks like a phone post.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  3. david

    Muslims are fathers too.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Sassafrass

      yes, you're right. so are jews. but a christian church produced this film.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • 500 Questions

      So are atheists and agnostics! We love our children, too! (Contrary to popular belief, we don't eat our young.)

      October 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  4. WhatWhatWhat?

    "Half of the fathers in this country are already failing", what statistic supports this statement? The divorce rate? Because if it is, it's not the father's failure, it's the MARRIAGE failure. That bond between a "man and a woman", as religious delusionists like to say, which, ironically, is supported so vehemently by the stupid church, is the cause of the failures. Not men, and not women, but marriage. If people were taught to wait for marriage, or forgo it altogether, instead of being forced and coerced into it, this wouldn't even be an issue. If you check the statistics, half of the fathers in the US are NOT deadbeat dad's, so the statement doesn't support this notion either. It sure sounds like another distortion of some truth, like delusionists are fond of doing.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Copper's Donut Shoppe

      Listen buddy ~ we are talking about GOD here ~ we don't need statistics.
      GOD is directing our minds to these facts.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Patrick

      Apparently my connection with God got dropped. Can you forward his number?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • craig hampton

      What we lack is commitment, to each other our children to our marriage,

      October 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  5. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    I always felt that there was quite a bit of theater with Christanity. What with the wine to water, raising the dead, sawing the woman in half...oh wait that was Houdini.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Uruz


      October 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  6. Jarrelle


    I always do....to what do you refer?

    October 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  7. Terri

    Speak for yourself Jarrelle!

    October 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Copper's Donut Shoppe

      Speak for yourself Terri ~ and only in tongues.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  8. Robin G.

    To all those who don't believe.....My mother use to say "there are no atheist's in fox holes." How true!

    October 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Jake

      So your mother didn't understand how to use apostrophes?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Copper's Donut Shoppe

      did your mother spend a lot of time in foxholes?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Nope

      Robin G.

      My mother used to say that if I swallowed my gum it would stay in my stomach for 7 years. She was wrong... and so was yours. There has been report after report on this blog (and elsewhere) that your old saw is not true. Case in point: Pat Tillman.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      It's another delusion christians tell themselves about atheists to make them feel superior, just like deathbed conversions. Guess what? They're both ignorant lies spread by scared, ignorant people who can't even tell how absurd the statements are.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Patrick

      How alarming that you accept it to be true. Why?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  9. Truth Squad

    Printing these kinds of stories CNN is one way to get to the atheists, as these nasty, mean-spirited blogs all over CNN flourish.

    However, Hollywood could care less about how successful movies that appeal to Christians are. Hollywood is populated by and represents the 10% of the population that comprises either atheists or those who are living like atheists. Hollywood (and the news media and TV, all media in general) has a goal of propagandizing liberal views and lurching the country as far left as possible with strawmen characters and stories that show liberal views succeeding in a vacuum. They also like to show middle america and the religious in a most viciously bad and ad hominem way.

    Looking at the 50s and 60' and somewhat into the 70s, movies based on Bible stories blew out the box office, garnered awards and flourished. However, liberals got ahold of hollywood in the 70s and it's been downhill ever since.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Republicans for Voldemort

      Yeah. Way to go Inquisition Squad. Dolores and I are proud of you.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  10. Jarrelle

    And Chuckles...I don't need religion to hate dolts like you....I'm quite capable on my own. P.S. You should start praying for an education because your spelling and grammar are atrocious!

    October 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Jesus taught us to love one another and to serve and take care of each other.

      Jesus even said: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

      Jesus also taught us to be kind and compassionate, to forgive and turn the other cheek.

      How can anyone have a problem with this?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Hey Barry, if that's ALL it was, just like you stated, then no one would have a problem with it. But you failed to mention the other things we don't like about it, such as the worship of silly ghosts, a global flood that never occurred, the origin of species, the 6000 yr old earth, the horrors that await the unbelievers, and if you don't believe, you "ain't gonna' wind up ta' heaven" so you can bow down and praise god for a thousand years before letting the devil go again. That's what makes it bad, dude, you can't figure that out?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Patrick


      Do you know what Mohammed taught? Do you accept those teachings as you do those of Jesus?

      Why or why not?

      October 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  11. Ron

    I'm not a Christian, but I think the hate and fear heaped on them by so many is not well deserved. The folks at Sherwood, many of whom I know personally, are good people; real people struggling with all the problems Christians and non-Christians alike deal with every day. I don't happen to agree with some of the dogmatic elements espoused by the church, but that doesn't mean I'm at war with the very fine people whose searching has led them to different answers than me. Though viewers may not believe in the religious cloak the message is delivered in any more than they believe in The Force or a magic Ring of Power, perhaps they would still benefit from the inspiration to improve their families. My hat is off to the moviemakers who offer a message of hope and strength to everyone!

    October 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Somebody

      It's not fair to hate Christians for perpetrating the Crusades, or WWII? Interesting.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  12. leecherius

    Colin...nobodies listening..

    October 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  13. Robin G.

    When I read the posts it always appears that people are so negative. They dissect every little thing. I think its great that a church is standing behind a movie and making it apply to our daily lives. Why should this be perceived as negative? I too believe in God and am a Christian. That does mean me we are better than other people, it simply means we surrender our lives and care to an ultimate God who has control over ALL living things. Its by Grace we are saved. For those that do not believe, someday you may. I hope so.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  14. Jarrelle

    I detest all religion, but I find it curious how the same people who would stridently defend Jews and Muslims think it's okay to have open season on Christianity. Seems we are ALL hypocrites.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • james

      You 'detest religion' likely because you've a) been exposed to some 'bad strains' of it in Evangelicalism, and some unpopular elements of Catholicism, which is sad. Religion is the formal incorporation of spiritual teachings, and is essential to living a fulfilling life. Of course it is possible to achieve spiritual progress without religion, but that's like trying to achieve intellectual progress without education. You should strongly consider moving past the false presentation of religion in America – both by the bad churches and by the popular media outlets, and discover classical spiritual advancement for yourself. Then, when you 'grasp' what it is all about, the ritual and dogma of the Church you will recognize as merely just a 'language' of the teaching and you won't be intimidated by it. Nobody that understands true Religion could ever 'detest it', this can only come from ignorance.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Believe it or not, Jesus also hated religion.

      For this reason he taught people to treat others the way they wanted to be treated, to pray in secret, to do good when no one is looking, etc..

      Strangely it was religion that killed Jesus. Religion drove the nails.

      Jesus didn't have problems with the common people. He had great difficulty, however, with the religious people.

      Imagine that!

      October 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  15. Pan3

    What about making a movie which shows fathers that still love and support their gay chlidren? Or is that too Courageous?
    ...I thought so, hypocrites...

    October 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Thomas

      how about hollywood releasing movies that aren't blatantly anti-christian, or movies that inspire personal values of kindness and respect, or releasing movies not clearly predisposed to the liberal agenda, talk about hypocrisy there the kings of saying they inspire values while they attack the core of the family and America

      October 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Atheists < Poo

      pan3 just got burneddddd. hahahahahaha.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Invictus

      And those secularists who cry for tolerance are intolerant of intolerance. Can't you just agree that a movie focused on being a better father is a message that is sorely needed in today's society? Nobody said anything about gays or anything else like that. I am curious though, since you appear to be a secularist, how you can rationalize in your mind the tenets of Darwinism with Socialism. Shouldn't the smartest, strongest, etc...among us survive to pass on our genetic material? Otherwise....whoopsie!...we get people like you.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Patrick

      Speaking for myself, Evolutionary Theory is (among other things) a science of studying the various methods of change in a species over time and generations.
      Socialism is (among other things) a economic system that puts the good of others over the good of the individual.

      So, as ludicrous as it is comparing the two unrelated notions, I would say they are compatible because they are of unrelated systems.

      Taking a tangent here, Evolutionary Theory goes hand-in-hand with capitalism: survival of the fittest, dog eats dog, culling of the herd. The capitalist will relate to evolution because the two are ideologically similar in practice.

      Christians, on the other hand, tend toward Socialist ideals that embody Christ's ideaology: help your fellow man and the downtrodden, don't be a money lender, etc.

      So I guess I would like to know how many Christian's embrace Christ's (arguably) prefered system, Socialism.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    As far as religion goes, I think it would be essential that belief in marriage is a leap of faith by both parties. My belief in marriage is, was, and always should be, forever. Marriage is a work in progress. To find yourself in a position where divorce is the only answer means that you weren't willing to put the time and effort into the marriage you presented before God and all your peers. And whether you decided to have children or a child, it is your solel responsibility to care for that child financially, emotionally, and religiously. If you really need to have a movie or a church make you see this point, then you weren't raised right by your parents or you have no brain or heart. Despite the fact I am a divorced father, my daughter understands and knows the love she has from her father. Even though the mother does her best to unravel these truths, LOVE is and always will be the defense of this. Honestly, there should be a movie portraying the governments ideas of how children should be raised because that is who is deciding where, when, and how much the child receives in terms of time away from fathers, money to raise these children, and all policies involving dissolution of marriage. Seriously, the government is deciding what religion is and what we the people should be quoting or portraying. Atheism is a term used widely and unwisely to say that you believe in evolution. Atheism is NOT a religion, it is a belief. It's not a term that was found in the times of Christ and is mentioned as far back as the 6th century. As far as these atheist posts, who cares what you think. You apparently believe in nothing. Go worship your false Gods and see what happens. Sodom and Gomorrah taught us all.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  17. Mike

    @MistahBurns: equates ... good father to being christian, .. such as you can not be a great gay father" Why assign this to Christians? Some Christians would say a gay father is OK. Some other people, like me, who are not religious would say that "great gay father" is an oxymoron.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  18. David

    It matters because one day everyone will stand before Almighty God and give an account of their lives. Whether you believe it or not. Jesus said "I am the Way, The Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
    Believe on the Lord Jesus today. Admit you are a sinner and ask Jesus into your heart. He will change you in ways you never thought were possible. Today is the day of Salvation.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • david

      Oh lord.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      David please sight one primary source that indicates that Jesus actually lived and walked the Earth. The bible is not a primary source, as the people writing within it's pages lived at the least decades after Jesus was purported to have lived, and never met the man in person or heard him speak in person.

      Not even the Romans, famous for their detailed record keeping, seem to have been bothered to record the execution of a renegade such as Jesus, nor his birth.

      Still waiting for proof the man even existed...still waiting...

      October 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  19. Military MOM

    You dear one are the latter:)

    October 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  20. David

    The atheist mindset is dangerous.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Atheists < Poo

      to say the least.....

      October 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Care to explain why, exactly? Or do you just like posting pointless, bigoted, ignorant, biased, overly-general comments

      October 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • me

      Tea Parties are for little girls.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • 500 Questions

      They're not the ones flying planes into buildings.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • james

      'The atheist mindset is dangrous' above all because it elevates materalism – which is to say the belief that there is not intrinsic value to life, that we are all merely piles of dust (i.e. sub-atomic particles) bouncing around in random fashion. What happens in this scenario is that the ego is free to pursue it's own agenda without moral recourse. There is no 'morality' in a material world. 'Morality' would just be self-delusion, we make ourselves 'feel bad' because we murdered someone, only because it breaks a social covenant that will bring negative returns in the long run, i.e. 'morality' would then be a selfish concept (I don't murder because if I do, someone might murder me, instead of not murdering because it is 'wrong').

      Failure to recognize our evident spiritual nature, and failure to make progress in this regards, is the greatest failure of all human capacities.

      There are only 2 sides in this world: those who are on the side of materialist reductionist (i.e. selfish pursuit), and those who recognize at least on some level the spiritual truth.

      Religionists make many mistakes along the path, and atheists can certain live better lives than some religionists, but in the long run, spirit trumps matter.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Patrick

      Being an atheist myself, I consider life to have an intrinsic value. Why wouldn't I value life? Do Deists not value their life until they learn of Mohammed, Jesus or Buddha?

      Spiritual nature is a tough one. It is like Santa Clause in that you really believe it – want to believe in it – even though there is nothing empirical to base it on. Eventually it becomes a notion unbelieved but still maintained for the sake of others – again, like Santa. Spirit is like freewill. We can't even define it, so we won't get far in talking about it.

      There is morality in the material world. We impose it on each other. This is simply sociology, the behaviors we have and how they are perpetuated among us, whether realist or deist.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.