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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. Michael Landon

    Note: From a former CPL of the United States Marine Corps – THANK YOU :), just saw the "Courageous" movie and it hit a home run with me. I am a Born-Again Christian – Judeo Christian belief, and if there is one thing I have seen over a period of years, the lack of dads being courageous in the home, with their faith, and in the service for their country, it is almost overwhelming trying to juggle it all. I am a grandpa now and still worship the Lord and Savior. I can take the message and the film-movie to my family and friends to inspire and really Bless them all. Thank you again...GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!

    October 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  2. kent peterson

    this was a great movie, If only more fathers took a good look at themselves and follow this movies lead the world would be a better place.You know I am right. You hear me you low -life clowns out there!

    October 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  3. wrnklprf

    I've not yet seen this movie. But I hope they make one about women being good mothers and this is the reason:
    I was in a UPS store making copies.....a young mother (maybe 17-22) and her baby daughter (under 2 yrs.) came in. The little girl was very afraid of her mom and the mom was saying what a drag it was being "saddled" w/this dear little one. Both me and the counter help looked at ea. other obviously feeling so sad for the baby....I mentioned what a sweet and pretty little girl she was and mom said "yeah...changing diapers at all hrs...can't go anywhere w/o finding sitters" and on and on....I don't know all the mom is going thru, but was genuinely afraid for the baby's safety. The baby had bruises on her head and neck...couldn't see her arms and legs...they were clothed, but am praying the little one gets rescued somehow...mom left before I could peek out and maybe get a lic. pl. #....I wanted to report it but wasn't fast enough. I pray for all children, people and animals who are abused and hope they get rescued....and I pray God will change the hearts of the abusers..and that they'll see the damage they're doing and change for the better.....
    Yes, there are people who profess to be Christians and are anything BUT....
    I pray something happens in all their lives so their hearts can be changed to turn them into good, caring, compassionate people... there is SO much needless suffering in this world
    looking fwd to seeing such a movie and to seeing this movie about fathers.

    October 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  4. Clint Manning

    Awesome and well made movie, kept me on the edge of my seat. This one deals with the heart of a father and I am one with four wonderful children. I have seen it twice now and will purchase it later also.
    Thanks, Kendrick brothers!
    http://www.christianbooksandgreatmusic.com

    October 13, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  5. College kid

    I've now seen this movie three times in theaters and am planning on taking my dad next week for the fourth time i'll be seeing it. LOVE IT!! it makes me want to marry a man who is willing to do what these men did and stand up for our family and children. I'm a pastors daughter and nothing has quite touched me the way that movie did – coudl explain why I've been 3 times!

    October 11, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  6. Amy Freudiger

    As someone who works for a nonprofit whose mission is to help families, I see first-hand the effects of lack of male role models in our society. Any counselor will affirm the causal correlation between fatherless childhoods and delinquency. Can children rise above this lack? Yes, but very slowly and deliberately, and I would add only with the love of their heavenly Father. This is why the Bible has a lot to say admonishing men to be real men, laying their lives on the line to serve, honor and protect their families, just as Christ did for us. That takes real courage. Women, let's encourage our men that yes, they can do it!

    October 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  7. Pastor Carmen

    This movie had more Highs and Lows in it My wife and I went to see this pass Friday and We both Laugh and Cried It was so good to not hear foul language Moved me in all different ways has I recalled my father and me which had no relationship. Man you need to see it and fell it for yourselves. God wants us Man to be Man and to be the Leaders we need to be For our Families and for ourselves. Thank you for an outstanding Movie. God Bless you all that made it possible.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  8. Mother

    I LOVED This movie... I went for a nice relaxing sat night because I was not in the mood for the club.. and I was SO happy I did.. I was laughing, crying, in suspense, then crying again.. a lot. But I walked out feeling inspired.. To be a better mother, wife and do for others whatever I had in my heart to do... I hope movies like this keep being made... I did feel that is was a little cheesy but really could care less after the way it left me feeling. I dont care what others thought of the movie because it helped me and I pray it'll help my husband... who is a good Dad, but could prob benefit as I did from seeing this! I hate how high the divorce rate is and how many of my friends from high school have children with no fathers! ! ! Christian or not I agree that america needs help keeping the families together and treating eachother like our most prized possession instead of things to be tossed out when we are tired of them! Love to all of the world, any race, religion, or coming from any backround!

    October 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  9. Joyce Watt

    LOVED IT. LOVED IT. LOOOOOOVED IT!! I saw this movie yesterday with my husband and thought it was amazing!! It is entertainment with a message!! How bout that? We rarely get that for the ever increasing cost of a movie these days. The moral of the story for me is we are tolerant of Hollywood producing crap and when it (Hollywood) isn't behind a movie of substance we won't support it. How crazy are we? I have recommended this movie to everyone I can think of. I'd heard about it a few months ago during a radio interview with the makers on Moody Radio in Chicago and it sounded like a movie worth seeing way back then. I just read some of the critics comments on another website that I won't care to mention but I am so thankful that I nor the Kendrick brothers have to answer to our critics.!!! We have to answer to God. I feel God's hand was all over this movie and that of course has added to it's success. This movie should start a movement or at least make some of us think to answer the call and that is to be better parents. If we believe as we say that children are a gift from God then why do so many of us neglect that gift. This movie is a call to raise the bar a call to CHOOSE to do better when we know better. God created the family before He even created the church so apparently family is important to Him yet so many of today's families are broken and yes far too many are fatherless. I use to often hear it said, " if it takes two to make em It takes two to raise em." It is only when we start to invest in the family will we have stronger ones. Stronger families make for stronger communities and stronger communities make for a better world!!

    October 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  10. Gregory smiht

    Good article and interesting comments. Anyone interesting in seeing the movie can watch it here http://moviesonlinelive.com

    October 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  11. word

    Here's a story on Ken Bevel, one of the Courageous stars
    http://wordnews333.ipower.com/2011/10/07/od-is-intervening-courageous-star-bevel-says/

    October 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  12. Martin in Miami

    An Incredibly moving and productive film for our times. I saw it last night at 7pm. My wife and I and 6 others were the only ones in the theater. On both sides of us we could hear the explosions, etc. from other, much better-attended films. Quite telling that a movie that truly seeks to build an audience up, is far less interesting to the public than a movie that is seeks only to escapism. I am the father of 6 children, ages 2 -15 and this movie spoke to so many emotions that a committed father experiences on a daily basis, whether a Christian or not. These brothers and sisters at Sherwood have an incredible ministry through film. The themes they develop ring true for all caring people, be they followers of Christ or followers of their own moral compass. If a non-Christian sees this film, I am sure that they will come away with a better idea of what a father's Christian worldview looks like, and many, by God's grace, will find it worth looking into deeper. I'll put $11 in Sherwood's offertory plate any day!

    October 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  13. Colleen

    Wonderful, refreshing, Christ-glorifying movie with an awesome and convicting message for everyone- especially fathers. Thank you, Sherwood pictures. 

    October 7, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  14. Marathon

    Really love these guys. It is so refreshing to see such an inspirational and well done story!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  15. *frank*

    "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."
    Not really, but rock on...go, Jesus!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  16. Jane Austin

    This is an amazing and enlightening movie. I am so excited that they just keep em coming! I have seen all of their movies and wasinspired every one. I think it is amazing what they have done and with such a small budget!

    October 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  17. LJ

    Aside from the intent of this movie, is anyone else wondering if the revenue is in part due to the well-publicized fact that members of the Duggar family (19 Kids and Counting) are extras in the film? Not only is all over their blog and various other websites but they have an entire episode of their show dedicated to the filming of the movie...

    October 6, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Normon

      I wasn't aware of any of it. The movie, the extras, nothing.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Sandy

      I've been excited to see this movie since I heard it was coming out. I enjoyed their other movies and they just keep getting better. It's a relief to be able to go to a movie without worrying about objectionable content. I had no idea the Duggars were in the film, even already having seen it. I've never seen the Duggars' show, but I have heard of them.

      October 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  18. Amy

    Why dump on this movie just because it's Christian? Christian or not, does anyone honestly think it's a bad thing to encourage men to be better fathers?

    October 6, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Robert

      It doesn't matter if the film has a positive message, if it's Christian there will always be those that oppose it. Hollywood is always busy bashing middle America, the traditional family, and Christian values. It's too bad most people are too foolish to realize it. For example, why is always the "other" woman or man that is right for the romance? It encourages weak-minded people to always look for greener pastures, when they could be giving up on their soul mate.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Chuckles

      Yeah! Darn that Hollywood for not always spreading the gospel when they're just making entertaining movies that are supposed to be fun and escape for a couple hours from the real world. Those heathen bast.ards with their hidden agendas of trying to corrupt our youth with movies like Transformers or Harry Potter, it clearly advocates robot homicide and witchcraft! They should make movies with overt religious messages all the time because thats their job, right?

      October 6, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      Well, the reviews say that while the message is commendable, the acting is bad and the script is simplistic with racists overtones. If you're going to make a movie about faith, how about making a good one? I think that's the problem here.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Bible Clown

      I find it odd that a 'Christian movie,' made by a church and marketed to other churches to show to professed Christians, finds Christian men abandoning their families prevalent enough to spend the time and money. They aren't making this to show in the 'hood, or in the Barrio, or down on the farm, they are making it for Midwestern White Christians. IS this really such a problem? Are Christians walking out on their families in record numbers?

      October 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      No Clown..it's not about father's leaving their families or anything like that. It is about how some ppl can let their family connections slip. In this case, the connection between fathers and children or their spouses. Regardless of faith, it's something that can happen to anyone.

      October 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Sandy

      My thoughts exactly.

      October 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Amy

      I left my comment to defend this movie (which I haven't seen) against people who attack what should be an uncontroversial message of better fatherhood, simply because of a reflexive contempt for Christianity (a religion I do not espouse). Poorly made or not, religious or not, if this movie actually inspires some men to be better fathers, does anyone really have a problem with that?
      I'm not on some crusade against Hollywood for making "immoral" movies. I doubt highly that Hollywood is out to "bash" middle America. I suspect it's mostly making whatever movies will make money, and if that happens to be movies that you think undermine traditional middle American family values, blame middle America for spending its money on these movies.

      October 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Amy, if a movie inspires to do someone to do something, there's a good chance that the emotion won't last. That's the thing about movies. You get that post-movie emotional high, then when you get home, the real world steps in, and things go back to how they always were.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  19. todd

    So I'm NOT supposed to kill uppity children? I'm confused. Can I at least kill people who eat shrimp?

    October 6, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Shrimp eaters, yes! Children? No. Unless they eat shrimp.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • MrPogle

      Killing kids is ok. Mark 7, Verse 10 has Jesus criticizing the Jews for not killing their children. He says about Moses:

      For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

      October 6, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Captain Ahab

      Arr, matey, yer supposed t'be killin' shrimp that eat people, not people who eat shrimp.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Aristocles

      Do you go out of your way to misunderstand the Bible? Do you really take it all literally, or think that most Christians or Jews ever did?

      First, the prohibitions against shrimp and pork, as well as the stoning of harlots were the laws of the Jews. The laws of the Jews are neither the laws of God nor the laws of Christians. Second, prohibitions of pork and shrimp were made in a time and place where consumption of either of those things was very risky due to infected meat. It was considered dangerous to eat such food, and thus, to prevent deaths (in following the Commandment "You Shall Not Kill"), those foods were prohibited.

      People who misconstrue the Bible in an attempt to make Christians or Jews look bad need to take classes to understand the Bible. If you did, you would not hate it so much.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  20. Reality

    Summarizing Parts I, II and III of Courageous with a Power Point Slide: (see Parts II and III on p. 1 and p. 2.)

    SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
    THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR LIKE 9/11.

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    Added details upon request.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Reality-Check

      Religious as well as Secular historians write about Jesus, and his miracles. Be informed.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Scott - 1

      @ Reality-Check: JK Rowling writes about Harry potter and his miracles. Be informed.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Bible Clown

      JRR Tolkien wrote about elves and dwarves, Be informed. Also, there's one non-Bible mention of Jesus somewhere in Tacitus' history. He says Jesus was executed, and doesn't mention the ground shaking and the sun being blotted out and him coming back from the dead, or any miracles. He was probably real though, and his name would have been Yeshua bin Yussuf.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Fun fact, Tolkien based the dwarf characters on jews and the relationship between gimli and legolas was supposed to show that jews and gentiles can get along even though they historically hate each other.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Fun fact. I agree with Randall from Clerks 2. "There is only one Return. And it's not 'Of the King' it's 'Of the Jedi.'"

      October 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Aristocles

      The early church wrote what they believed was true, including many embarrassing details about their own misconduct, such as Peter denying Christ. If they were making up a fairy tale about themselves, they would not have included such gross misdeeds; one of their own betrayed Jesus (Judas), one of them doubted him (Thomas), the fact that he died on the Cross at all would have been repulsive to many at the time, thus limiting the number of converts, etc.

      When someone makes a statement against their own interest, that statement is generally held to be stronger and more true, as it knocks out a major motive for lying (ie to benefit oneself)

      October 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • .........

      all reality posts are spam garbage endless repeats hit report abuse do not waste time reading

      October 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • tallulah13

      If you check, most mythologies contain things like betrayal and dire deeds by once trusted companions. That's what makes stories memorable. That's why they were included in the bible.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Reality

      Peter's denial story has been analyzed by most contemporary NT scholars. Many of these scholars have concluded that Mark 14: 66-72 is not historical.

      e.g.

      Professor JD Crossan in his book, The Historical Jesus, (see also Crossan's inventory of authentic sayings posted on the internet) and Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 695.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:13 am |
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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.