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. Justin Hamaker

    I'm sorry, but $9 million is not exactly what I would call "lighting up" the box office. Yes, it's a decent opening for a small movie in somewhat limited release. But it would hardly be noteworthy if it were any other movie.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Tommy

      Not sure you are very bright..... I would consider being the #1 new movie in America pretty much lighting it up...

      October 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Al

      Not sure you are very bright..... I would consider being the #1 new movie in America pretty much lighting it up...

      Hey Einstein,

      Had you read the first paragraph, you would know it was #4.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Not quite simple

      Al it was the #4 movie but the #1 new movie. Reading comprehension is important when insulting others. As for "lighting it up" that is pretty much subjective.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Al

      not quite simple,

      I missed the word "new". It helps if one clearly reads the article and the responses. Thanks for clearing that up.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  2. OxheadLives

    I'm looking forward to the Broadway musical version. If not that, maybe they can to it on "Glee."

    October 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  3. debbie

    some of these comments are heartbreaking....and confirms the prince of this world truly rules.....right now. God bless you all for making this film!!

    October 4, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      (From an earlier post)

      I do solemnly resolve before COMMON SENSE to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
      I WILL NOT force religion on my children. They have their own brains.
      I WILL teach them to be critical thinkers.
      I WILL make sure they are well educated and well rounded relative to the world around them so they can make informed decisions.
      I WILL facilitate the exploration of their passions in life.
      I WILL NOT make them go to Bible School. That is just cruel and unusual punishment. (Just had to get that in. Bad memories LOL)
      I WILL make them aware of world diversity and expect them to respect all people.
      I WILL encourage them to contribute to and help others in need, without bringing up religion in the process.

      Having a Dad there is great (I did not) but it is far more important to be loved and respected no matter who is there to raise you, and to have clarity rather than “us against them”.
      To Clarify: I am saying it is not necessary to be a Christian. Christians’ tend to feel they hold some higher moral ground. They don't. And if my kids wanted to "come to the Lord and work in the ministry" would I support it? Absolutely I would, that is the point. Let THEM decide what they believe based on ALL available information. And based on ALL available information, I think my kid’s are probably intelligent enough not to worship anything. But like I said, if they do, I still love them. They are my kids! I give them freedom, the greatest gift.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  4. 21k

    can they do anything with their fellow xtian westboro baptists?

    October 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  5. hippypoet

    have no fear, fake gods can't hurt you nor tell you what to do. the only provider of life and all energies that make up life on this planet is , THE ALMIGHTY SUN! no earthly man nor man's creation can take away from fact! May the Light of the ALL POWERFUL SUN light your path of truth. after all its truth that matters right? so research your @sses off and find out what i know!

    October 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      "Sun" or Son"? You get cancer from the sun. Not a good thing. Block the sun and use a high SPF.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i say SUN...not son, the SUN GIVES EVERYTHING, EVEN REUSEBLE ENERGY! what "god" of any faith gives, anything?

      October 4, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • hippypoet fan

      Right on Crunchy. Even now I am naked and turning my face towards the life giving SUN. I have lots of sun block of course since the twins are twisting in the wind right now.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  6. River7

    There was another article on CNN today about men in our culture starting to turn away from any responsibility, including work and fatherhood. Christian or not, it is great to bring this out as a discussion point, and it is great to see them taking a stand on this. This issue is about real kids growing up without fathers, and the difference a father can make in their life. This movie may be just the thing to get a father to think about getting or staying involved in his kid's life.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • TheBugHouse

      Excellent point, however the generation of philandering / womanizing / absent fathers that came before me (I'm 40) taught us exactly how not be a dad.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • River7

      @thebughouse – yeah, I am 41 and know what you mean. Plenty of the same stuff going on now though. Some boys will become good fathers with no example, some boys will be bad fathers even with a good example, but for many boys they will become the father that they experienced, and if they experienced no father or an absent father, then that is what many of them will become. We are the adults – i think the point of these kind of films is to help us think and reflect if we are acting like one.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  7. maficmagma

    so I could throw away $10 bucks on a movie to see and hear something I already know...or get a few beers....hmmmmm, decisions decisions

    October 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  8. Jez

    I wonder if you Christians will be able to handle it when a movie backed by Islam hits the box office. The church needs money like the rest of us. This was a financial endeavor. Their next move will be to try to make "Courageous" a trilogy.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood


      October 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • CLM

      The same thing would happen as with this movie. If you don't want to go see it...DON'T. I would be willing to bet a portion of the money earned from sales goes to missions, charities, etc. I am sure there is even money that goes back into their community. Why so hateful towards a church that put out a movie with a positive message?

      October 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • TheBugHouse

      @CLM – No hatred to any specific church, just at the the organized religion that lays cliam to "morality" all the while turning a blind eye to overwhelming hypocrisy within its own.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  9. TheBugHouse

    I guess x-tian fathers need cheezy movies to teach them to love their kids.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  10. hmmwaitasec

    I wonder if they would have a "message" to send if there was no promise of millions of dollars to be reaped. And I am not simply talking about the movie. Religion in general...

    October 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      And if they use some creating accounting, Sherwood Baptist Church can poor the profits into their church's ministries and missions and never pay one penny of taxes. Now THAT's a tax loophole!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  11. Russell Hammond, Hollywood

    @hippypoet – I was wondering how long it would take one of you "Christians" to damn someone to hell. Never to disappoint.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • god is dead

      whoa....i am no christian. they are moronic idoits whorshipping a 2000 year old dead guy. and they call me insane for thinking the SUN is worth a worship because its a fact that we do owe everything we are and can be to it... without the SUN we are nothing.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • hippypoet

      Russell Hammond, Hollywood
      please don't ever think i am a follower of that moronic cult christianity! they will all burn in my ALMIGHTY SUN!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • River7

      Hippypoet is actually anti-christian – he is following an earth based religion or is just a troll. He is certainly not Christian. You need to read his posts a bit more closely.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      I loves me some hippypoet. Lather up with SPF 50 and get out there and worship the SUN GOD mister!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Tom W

      You are right. Without the Son, we are nothing.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  12. SAM

    Looking forward to seeing this movie. Wow....there are a lot of bitter comments on this site. God is the 'ultimate' Father who teaches us how to love by His own example. There are many angry thoughts towards God on this site and it's disappointing how often scripture is taken out of context and how often we Christians don't love people. Let us love others.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      No bitterness. But some of us just live in the real world and put our faith in family and real world solutions without relying on fairy tales to get us through.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • blargh

      It's odd how your ultimate father ordered Saul to kill "men, women, children and infants" of the Amalekites. That's a pretty bloodthirsty ol' deity.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Blessed & Loved

      You're mocking our spirituality and referring to it as a fairy tale. But that's not bitter?...
      The fact is that some of the most brilliant minds on earth (yes, more brilliant than average joes posting on CNN stories) have failed to disprove God's existence. Same thing for the resurrection.
      Personally, no one is forcing you to accept Christ as your Lord. No one is forcing you to worship God. So I see no need for you to be so disrespectful of the belief I share with many others. Not saying that either of us is right or wrong. All I'm asking for is a little respect.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      @Blessed & Loved- you won't find respect from me.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • blargh

      It isn't up to any brilliant minds to disprove god's existence. They have to prove he does exist, something they've never done. The onus is on the ones making the positive assertion–god exists. After all, can you disprove Zeus exists?

      October 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Ben

      SAM, yeah that good ole love from that good ole Christian god. Don't be too mean to your slaves and it's OK if you sell your daughters or send them out to be ra.ped. And have fun at the tsunami. But kill and burn a sheep for god first or he'll torture you later.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      I'll never forget the time Jesus took me fishing. I got sunburned while he sat on a rock and drank like two liters of wine. He threw up and passed out for about three hours, but then miraculously he arose and we went and got corn dogs.

      October 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  13. T.J.

    I think Sherwood Baptist is doing an amazing job of bringing family values and "Jesus is the answer" to America. They are being used by God to help open up our eyes in this country. DOING THINGS OUR OWN WAY IS NOT WORKING AMERICA. Let's get right with the Lord, place Him first in our lives and see if things will go better for this nation. I already have other ides swirling around....a movie about military men...alcohol struggles....someone (like Herman Cain, a man of God turning around businesses and then possibly going to the Whitehouse to help lead a nation back to God)...Keep up the good work Sherwood!! You'll hear well done good and faithful servants!

    October 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • TheBugHouse

      Honestly TJ, if "jesus is the answer" for you.........thats great. But to somehow think that we all must suscribe to the notion of christianity (or any religion for that matter) is not only preposterous but just downright egocentric.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  14. god is dead


    October 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • GodPot

      Thou cannot kill something that never lived.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • god is dead

      something that has no life can not give life. i know, i am, and who the hell do you think you are arguing with me!!!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • what

      A poster read..

      God is Dead
      __ Nietzsche

      Below that it read

      Nietzche is Dead

      October 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      Elvis is dead too and I don't feel too good myself.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  15. leonard

    If this the number four film why is it that I have never heard of it? It is none of the local movie houses. It sound like a Christian film though (they leave their families at an alarming rate). Hope it works, I do not like to have to pay for their messes

    October 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  16. FU

    Ah fiction: made by idiots, for idiots...I will avoid it like..well..church on sunday!

    October 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • leonard

      good. its a false religion anyway

      October 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • hippypoet

      why don't you come and feast with us the followers of the SUN, we only do service on 2 days a year – the summer and winter solice, its a sight to behold.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      @hippypoet – Umm...huh? I want whatever you're smoking.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  17. hippypoet

    the movie is full of racism and hate, along side that there is a slight message of how to raise your kids by being a better dad which implies that we dads aere not as good as we could be. well you believers truly believe that a dude's father gave birth to his son only to have him die in the worst way! nice.

    heres the truth for all you morons. n

    have no fear, fake gods can't hurt you nor tell you what to do. the only provider of life and all energies that make up life on this planet is , THE ALMIGHTY SUN! no earthly man nor man's creation can take away from fact! May the Light of the ALL POWERFUL SUN light your path of truth.

    October 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • God is Real

      Wow! I'm surprised you even paid money to see it considering your strong personal views. Or is your synopsis of the movie just based on your personal views instead of fact?

      October 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  18. God is Real

    What an amazing country we live in, that we have the opportunity and freedom to put our hearts and beliefs into any venture we choose! I am so happy for this church that they are able to invest in glorifying God's love, and providing a deep rooted story that can reach out to others who are looking for guidance, inspiration and help in becoming a better father and leader for their families. It sounds to me that the only people judging are those who disagree with the content of the film. You don't have to believe – nobody is making you go watch the movie. But why do you have to bring down and judge those who do believe? Why do you have to attack something that is successful?

    October 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      Simply because religion is a business that isn't taxed as it should be.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Praise Jesus. I saw this film and now I'm going to stop beating my wife and doing crack. That's just how schmaltz affects me I guess. Cuz I'm two dimensional and can easily be reached by smarmy movies.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • hippypoet

      do you realize that your post is full of pride, thats a cardinal sin...have fun in hell. 🙂

      October 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • jen

      I'm your typical liberal hippie and I don't know if I believe in God, but I don't see any reason to put down "God is Real" for what this person is saying or to bash this movie. Strong families are a good thing and benefit us all, and we should support that.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • when

      First, your post is not full of pride. Just ignore them. They have reprobate minds. And to answer your question: they are controlled by the father of lies, satan himself. They have believed the biggest lie of all without even realizing it....that they can be there own god. If this is your first time on here, I'll warn you right now. There are many nonbelievers that say blasphemous things about God. He'll take care of it. All we can do is pray for God to open the eyes of the blind and to give them a hunger to know Him. The reason their posts are so full of hate and mockery is because satan is the real author behind the posts.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Get This


      If you are in the movie-watching mood, go watch "The Crucible" - then come back with your "satan" talk, you wizened old prune.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • GodPot

      "others who are looking for guidance, inspiration and help in becoming a better father and leader for their families"

      You are right, anyone who takes advice from anywhere or anyone that helps them be a better person or a better parent then more power to them. Like this passage written by one fervant Christian "In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders" See, we should take the example of Christ and drive out the evil from America as this author says, right? I'm glad all the Christians reading this agree with the Fuhrer.

      My point is, why take moral advice from pedophiles religious pedlers who only profit when they can convince you of their sincerity? Why not get parenting advice from say, Tony Robins, or maybe another parent you admire or respect? It's as valid as the Christian "Be a better Dad" message without having to bow down and pray to some invisible being and give 10% to these guys on earth who claim to represent it.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Doh

      Well said, When, well said. I am still filled with love for those who don't believe. They are God's children as well, and all of us are equally flawed and sinful.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Les

      And just how is investing millions into a movie clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and visiting those in prison? This is a criminal waste of church money on a for profit enterprise. No more no less. Combined with a message that is clearly flawed and based on questionable research, its only "moral" is that churches, should be subject to the same taxation as every other business and that the Baptist Church, along with many others who abuse their non-profit status in both the commercial and political arena, should have their non-profit status rescinded immediately. What bunch of losers!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • False Prophet Spotting Service

      @when!!!! Bearing false witness! REALLY now!!!!!! Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Another one set for an eternal all expense paid vacation in Gehenna!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  19. Erich

    As bad off as the economy is down here in SW GA., you'd think a large tax free corporation like this church could do more to help our local poor. Word has it they're making millions via these films, The actors and film crew don't get paid, they volunteer I've been told. What is it?? "Ye shall know them by their works".

    October 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • yomamayo

      this is a joke post, right?

      October 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Russell Hammond, Hollywood

      This is why the US should tax churches. What a racket.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  20. Russell Hammond, Hollywood

    "It is meant to inspire fathers to not leave their families, to love their children, to not fail." I'm atheist and I've never once thought about abandoning my family for anything. So what's the deal with trying to convince church-going people to meet their family obligations – and without the fear of god but rather because it's the right thing to do? This is why I dismiss religion and I would never watch this movie. I have no hesitation over my dedication to my family. I guess the weak minded religious people will get off on it, though. Praise Jebus.

    October 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • God is Real

      It's not about the fear of God, but the love of God. Nobody is saying you can't be a devoted father unless you are a Christian??? Christianity is about forgiveness – not judgement. The movie is not just for "church-goers". It is for anyone who understands the challenges of being a parent and father in today's world. I'm sure if the movie was made by a big Hollywood studio without a Christ centered message people would not be so judgmental. I'm glad that you love your family so much, and that you would never abandon them. Unfortunately everyone is not as faithful as you are.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Cyle in Dublin

      Christianity is about forgiveness?

      I'm sure that the crusades were very forgiving. The inquisition, such a lovely time. The jewish holocaust, the church forgave the nazi's as they were slaughtering millions. Global conversion by the sword, slavery, murder in the name of a faceless diety; all very forgiving. Forgiveness for everyone who believes in the same imaginary friend...

      October 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Ben

      As a Christian father, one can sell one's daughter or send her out to be ra.ped, and feel good about it since the bible said it was good.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Les

      What makes the movie "good" (fatherhood) is also it's worst failing. With the world population spiraling out of control, we do not need the message that adding more gaping maws to the already too big a mass of maggots is horrifying and wrong on every level.

      One of the things that a Xtian's Satan will do in the last is summed up in their own scriptures. "In the last days Satan shall appear as an angel of light, doing those things that seemeth good unto a man". Not murder, wars, pestulence but decidedly GOOD things. Therein lies the PROOF that modern far right conservative religions are all, without question, Satan's doing and not God's. It is way over due that those particular heretics be ignored and derided at every opportunioty for the Minions of Satan that they actually are. Period.

      October 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Les

      .......is NOT horrifying and......


      October 4, 2011 at 9:02 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.