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. A Dedicated Father

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and a dedicated father of two girls, I have to congratulate the Baptist church on a great contribution to our society. I am thrilled so many people are finally seeing and addressing the decay of what used to be called manhood into a stinking mass of losers who fail to commit to anything other than their own self gratification (see negative responses to this article). I hope this marks a turning point in our society. Come on guys, lets do the right thing, man up, be good fathers and husbands and be proud of it!!

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • ummmm

      "am thrilled so many people are finally seeing and addressing the decay of what used to be called manhood into a stinking mass of losers who fail to commit to anything other than their own self gratification (see negative responses to this article). "

      uh huh....just like your negative remarks too. So that's four fingers pointing back at you dude! 😉

      October 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      I'm already a good father. Your heart would stop if you knew what I've been through. Let's ask your kids how you're doing? I bet you're part of that stinking mass.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • A Dedicated Father

      Four fingers pointing at a guy who has made a lot of sacrifces and has no regrets.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • A Dedicated Father

      Bible Clown: If you are a good father, my comment shouldn't offend you! Obviously you really don't believe your own words. I didn't say anything about religion. Just that men need to be focused on their families. Done.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  2. Jeses

    where did they get the money to make a file? Oh, I know, they dont pay taxes... my bad

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  3. Kevin

    When did a simple conversation topic turn so many people to extreme hate? Especially if the hate comes from people who don't believe. Wouldn't they simply just ignore the white noise?

    Change the topic to anything else and you can;t generate the same hate between philly eagle fans and everyone else. Sad really.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • pat carr

      because it's from a religion that has currently and historically oppressed people, not tolerated other belief systems and is obnoxious and intrusive. Do you really have to ask? How long did you think that xianity would get a free pass?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      When Philly fans pass laws that make life difficult and go on tv every day to say crazy lies about me and my family, I'll hate them too.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  4. pat carr

    Thanks, i'll pass on a christer film

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  5. EnjoyingLife

    I am agnostic and I think anything to have a positive message for fathers/mothers to take responsibility for the LIFE THEY chose to have is a good thing.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  6. Dave

    If every penny made on this movie isn't handed over to the poor, then it's time to start taxing these hypocrites.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • W247

      They have probably turned over part of the profits to help out the communities. However, per the IRS, if you are a tax-exempt business and have an unrelated business then you must pay taxes on that income. I'm sure that is what they have done. Do you think they wouldn't have consulted the tax laws prior to starting this venture in the first place?

      Check it out on the IRS website.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  7. Saboth

    Sounds like a snooze-fest. No thanks. As an educated married man, you know what is even MORE responsible than being a good father? Not bringing more children into this world.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      So, not bringing more children into this world makes you a good father,while the ones that exist suffer by men who are not good fathers?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Steve


      You could argue that choosing NOT to have ADDITIONAL children affords you more time and resources to focus on the children you already have. And in this way, you could say one is being a more responsible father.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  8. Skip

    I believe what I believe, you believe what you believe.

    There – I'm not even going to "label" myself.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  9. goldenstate

    We enjoyed the film. Good story and acting... no A list players but they weren't needed in a film like this with a good story.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  10. hippypoet

    relgious people are ignorant... plain and simple... my belief is the existence of life is DIRECTLY owed to the ALMIGHTY SUN. this is a fact to which is beyond contest. to argue this is showing your stupidity and true ignorance. but hey, like thats a change form the normal.

    May the ALMIGHTY SUN shine a light upon you.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • new man

      Where did the hydrogen which formed the sun come from? Where did the forces and energy for the big bang originate?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • cor

      And what does any of this have anything to do about the movie?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • humanbean

      Hydrogen is the most common gas found in the universe. No coincidence that there would be a lot of celestial bodies composed of it new man. The universe obviously doesn't operate completely within the confines of what the human brain can comprehend. Here on earth, everything is about a beginning and an end. When you try to wrap your mind around beginnings and endings as far as the universe is concerned, your brain goes into overload. We cannot comprehend. I'm not saying that there's no supreme energy out there that's involved with the creation of this vast existence, but for the Christians, Muslims, and whoever else believes in the God of Abraham to believe that they have all the answers is preposterous.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Bible says greed is a deadly sin. The churches should join the Occupation of Wall Street.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  12. dmrb001

    Wow, sure is funny how God always becomes the topic of an argument even when religion wasn't the center of the discussion or movie in this case in the first place. Seems to me that this will be a very good movie no matter who produced it. Probably wouldn't get much attention on the comment section if this Church wasn't involved in it. Why can't you just take it for what it is, a genuine family oriented movie and leave it at that.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • EnjoyingLife

      Thx...intelligent comment.
      If you don't want to go...then don't go..its really simple. Even though I am agnostic, why would I care if the message is positive? Only people wanting to make this about religion.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Saboth

      Well...it's kind of like the Madea movies. Even though they aren't Christian, at every turn you are getting religion and church rammed down your throat. I'm sure this movie will be no different, with "real people" applauding how they couldn't get through tough situations without church or God or whatnot. Which is fine, but it's just a bit insulting for them to try and sneak it in there and state a movie is "neutral".

      October 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  13. BIll

    For the christians out there, really why are we so hateful towards those that believe differently? Is that really what Christ lived and taught, no, I think not. For anyone who believes differently, why are you so hateful to those that believe in Christ? Honestly, you have every right to believe what you want, we do not have to agree, nor do we both have to be right. In the end the truth will be known to all people.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • The Forager

      "In the end the truth will be known to all people."

      Unfortunately, you'll never know the truth. One day you'll die, and your brain will cease knowing things.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • James

      (a) there was nothing hateful in either this article, nor the movie. Christianity teaches hate towards none and only hates sin. Just because you sin, Chist loves you.....don't twist it to make yourself feel justified.
      (b)"In the end the truth will be known to all people."

      October 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      The Forager

      Be careful not to fall unto your own understanding, friend. If you are willing to risk your soul to eternity hell, so be it. But as for us who believe, we will remain in holding on to what we believe, rather you like us or not.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • U.S.Army-OverLord

      Well Forager... if what you say is true then what does it matter what you believe. Once you are dead Game Over right. But what if you are wrong?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • The Forager

      Hels and Army – What if you are wrong? What if of the thousands of gods that are available, you picked the wrong one to worship? What if the true god punishes people who worshiped false gods and gives a pass to atheists?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • U.S.Army-OverLord

      I picked the right one (for me anyway) I can't speak for the other ones. God showed himself to me and proved that he is real. I decided to serve him. It's really that simple for me. Christ is my God if I need to spell it out for you 😉

      October 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      The Forager

      You are hilarious!!!! How can you say " What if the true god punishes people who worshiped false gods and gives a pass to atheists?" But atheists don't believe in any gods, even if there were billions of them, so how can you claim this? Let's say ther were billions or thousands of gods, what would make you think that the pass will be given to you when you didn't believe in any of them? Praise God for His Holy Spirit that reveals His Truth to those who are yearning to know Him.

      God bless you!

      October 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • ummmm

      "But what if you are wrong?"

      The fear question that makes people believe just in case...... LOL! Got to love a religion that puts such fear into people. Bahhhh Bahhhhh Bahhhhhh.....

      October 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • cor

      The "What if you are wrong" approach is a horrible reason to believe in anything. Believing in something "just in case" is not Faith. People should either believe... or don't believe because of their own convictions or lack thereof. Yes, I am a Christian, but I have more respect for an Atheist that doesn't believe because they have done their own research and came up with their own conclusions than a Christian who believes "Just in Case".

      October 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • ummmm

      "God showed himself to me and proved that he is real. I decided to serve him"

      Nah, it's all in your head, you're using causation of coinsidence as justification to believe it's a god, instead of just the reality of this life. LOL!

      October 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Paul K

      If I'm wrong about Jesus being the only way, then I would have simply lived my life according to some great standards (Bible) and enjoyed it for all it's worth – NOT living for self, but for others.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • The Forager

      Hels – The "thousands of gods that are available" are, from my point of view, all fictional creations of man. I suspect that you agree with me, except that you think all but one god are fictional.

      Now there are three possibilities:
      1) I'm right. There is no god(s). Neither of us is rewarded or punished after our death.
      2) You're right. There is one god, the God of the Bible. You are rewarded and I am punished after death.
      3) We're both wrong. There is a god, but not the one you are worshiping. Who knows what would happen then...

      October 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • ummmm

      "NOT living for self, but for others."

      I live the same way but don't need a fantasy god to do it. Just because you believe in a deity doesn't make you better than those that don't believe. You need to check your stereotyping at the door dude.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • U.S.Army-OverLord

      If God showed me he is real and some internet guy tells me "it all in my head" who do you think I will believe. That is the problem with you spirtual blinded types. Do you even know what reality is. What is the odds that this planet (the only one like in the known universe) just popped up at random. Death will force each of us back into the spiritual realm. Let's see what reality is then.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • ummmm

      "Do you even know what reality is. What is the odds that this planet (the only one like in the known universe) just popped up at random. Death will force each of us back into the spiritual realm. Let's see what reality is then."

      Here's a hint dude – we don't have souls which means no spiritual realm.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • The Forager

      "What is the odds that this planet just popped up at random."

      That's the problem with you science-blind types.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Hey, US is correct in saying that his experience led him to his beliefs, and you are out of line attacking that. That's where we all stand, on experience. He is also one of the few who noticed that Christians are meant to be witnesses, not evangelists. Wait until you are called. I'd say that philosophy teaches us that we can't be certain of anything; this could all be hallucination or illusion, and he could certainly be misled or self-deceived. But what else is there except life experience to go by? US, generally by the time someone is an atheist or agnostic, they have searched earnestly for signs of god and found dollar signs instead, like with this movie made tax-free by a church, so don't be too sure about spiritual blindness . . .

      October 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  14. bailoutsos

    Did they do the movie with tax free money?

    October 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • D

      If they did they should be made to pay taxes on the profits, since this is not a donation. Matter of fact all the tax exempt status of a church sould be removed since most of them want to throw their hats into the political ring these days. Otherwise keep your tax free status and stay out of politics.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • A lawyer

      The income from the movie is a royalty which is probably excluded from the unrelated business income tax. The production company is probably an ordinary company though that pays taxes.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Al

      Do they pay taxes on the profits? I would think not if 100% of the profits go to the church. Does anyone offer a "How to start your own church and save thousands on taxes" seminar? Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, Mike Murdock, Tony Robbins?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • cor

      This is always a HUGE misconception. Churches don't pay taxes but the people that work there (Pastors, Administration, Sound People, anyone else EMPLOYED by the church) still has to pay taxes. So the Benny Hinns, the Joel Olsteens, and all of those people STILL have to pay taxes.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      cor, generally a rich megapreacher is paid a small salary, but carries a credit card full of church money which he spends tax-free on "church business" like cars and houses and restaurants and airplane tickets and hotel rooms and drinks with umbrellas in them.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  15. HeIsGod

    It's so funny to see how many unbelievers denounces Christ, but yet, they are the very FIRST ones commenting on EVERY religious article that CNN or any other network gives us.


    October 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Miranda

      No, not jealous at all. However, considering that the Christians stick their noses into the everyday life of the rest of us to the point of getting involved in politics and voting to deny rights and push their agenda into everybody elses lives then I see no reason for nonbelievers to come to your sites and get in your faces.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • pat carr

      Not jealous. Tired of religion pushed down our throat. How does it feel to get it back?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • U.S.Army-OverLord

      Good point, it's like these folks are preaching the God Less message. For people who hate God they sure love to be on these sites. 😉

      October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • HeIsGod


      Are you saying that every voter and politics are "Christians"? Open up your eyes, dear, many unbelievers do the same thing, so what do you have to say about that?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • jeeeebus

      Jealous of those believing in fairy tales comparable to Santa? Just sick of religious people trying to shove their beliefs down our throats. Sick of politicians pandering to you by trying to see who can say god and jesus the most...and it works! Sick of religions not paying taxes for their work (brainwashing) when everyone else must pay. Its kind of like being around a bunch of 40 yr old mentally handicapped people preaching about santa and if you dont believe in santa, they tell you that you will catch on fire! But no, not jealous of you. If I were jealous, I would just join a cult or religion.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      pat carr

      First of all, you have proven the point of my comment as we DO NOT go out to looke for any of you unbelievers in the News Network, you unbelievers never fail to come looking for us.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • @HelsGod

      "Are you saying that every voter and politics are "Christians"? Open up your eyes, dear, many unbelievers do the same thing, so what do you have to say about that?"

      You have to be kidding, 'dear'. I have yet to see an 'unbeliever' in this country campaign openly against gay marriage, or boo a gay soldier, or try and pass themselves off as more trustworthy/moral/whatever because they throw the name of a deity around. The supposedly Christian nominees I've seen so far are an arrogoant, backward horror.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • @HelsGod

      PS – stop b!tching about people coming in and not talking about the movie when all you're doing is NOT talking about the movie.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • D

      No body is Jeleous, but again if the church wants to stick their nose in politics then it's tiem they paid their fair share for that previlage and pay taxes just like the rest of us. No more tax exempt status. There is to much of that going on these days and there has always been separation of church and state. So get over yourself.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Jealous? What a weird question. No.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  16. S

    Of course there are many children living a part from their fathers as long as the government pays women to be single mothers. I think it's weird the number isn't higher but it will be. Welfare is becoming the new normal for all races.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Yeah it's such a great life being a single mother.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  17. Guer

    I want to see this film. Looks like a good one!

    October 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  18. Mike B

    Here comes all of the atheist and liberal derp!

    October 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • pat carr

      And here comes the christians every day trying to push their beliefs into our lives. Get used to us, we aren't going anywhere

      October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  19. Nixo

    This movie looks great, can't wait to see it:)

    October 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  20. Jesus H. Christ

    I had two fathers, why do my followers suddenly think this is evil?

    October 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • chip

      Your two fathers weren't sleeping together.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • @chip

      That's not what I heard....

      October 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
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About this blog

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.