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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. Ozymandias71

    If the movie has a message that is relevant – then I don't see a problem with a church backing and producing it. If people don't like it, then they should speak with their wallets and not see it. Simple enough solution to me.

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

      That's just good common sense, and a reasonable approach. Drama is more fun, therefore, this forum exists.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  2. Karen

    As a Christian, it is nice to have a movie that I know won't be offensive. There aren't many of those out there. Thank you producers of "Courageous".

    October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Steve

      Offensive to whom? You? It's a bit difficult to produce a movie that's "generally unoffensive" to everyone. Courageous: An unoffensive movie. Mostly.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  3. Allioop

    It is about time someone made a movie on this topic. Applaus all around.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  4. dugee

    It's nice to see a positive message come from the religious right every now and then. If you are capable of and have fathered children, be a parent to the best of your ability. It is a good message for everyone not just christians.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  5. andrew

    is fatherhood really as hard as people are making it out to be? really?

    October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  6. Christine

    How horrible of a church to try to encourage father to be just that fathers to their children. For SHAME! What were they thinking?? They should have made a movie filled with cursing,adultery,drug infested,murder, witchcraft, any other vile or fluff piece but this NO WAY!

    October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • JF

      I was with you until "witchcraft". Witchcraft? Is your last name O'Donnell?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Castiel

      You forgot vampires.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  7. Question?

    What would possess a non-believer to post on a belief blog? Searching...much?

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

      I personally do it to help Christians out of their silly superst.itions. The more we can put reason in their faces, the more of them we can elevate to the level of atheism. Many will lack the intellectual wherewithall to be helped, but some will acheive it. Doing it here – well, doctors go to where the disease is.

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

      We need to keep tabs on believers who are possessed to push their deity on our shared money, classrooms, courtrooms, politicians, definitions of marriage, etc.

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

      I don't care either way, but perhaps due to the fact that every time I read an article on evolution or similar topic believers post that it is all lies and creationism is true...goes both ways, try not to be biased and you will see so much more

      October 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Castiel

      Trolling, watching the drama, etc.

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

      Ah, I see you are troubled and seeking answers, young one. Hold still while I bop you with the Clown Hammer™. I'm just here to show you that there is life outside your tiny world, and that it isn't all thugs drinking cough syrup.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  8. SG

    I wonder if the church will have to pay any taxes on the revenues from the movie? Since religion is now so firmly tied to government, maybe the government should start taxing church profits to alleviate some of the country's debt.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  9. Tom

    You should also see some of the other films they've done. Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Flywheel. All are awesome films.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  10. gsmc

    All of this awful language and accusations. Who ever converted, changed someone else's mind, or simply explained their position by using sarcasm or hateful language? Dialogue, even with the worst of people, can only be established through respect and courtesy.

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

      Part of what pursuaded me to give up the lunacy of believing in fairy tales as a grown up was comedic scorn – with sarcasm and bad language and all – of some of the more ridiculous aspects of religion.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "Who ever converted, changed someone else's mind, or simply explained their position by using sarcasm or hateful language?"
      Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Adolf Hitler, Glenn Beck, Benito Mussolini, Hank Williams, jr., Michele Bachmann, Ayn Rand? Just for starters.

      October 5, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  11. JesusIsMySlave

    Religion is the infection of our world that needs to be cured.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  12. Impressed

    This was a great movie and I'm not even what I would call a very religious person. Beyond the religion, this movie seeks to invoke a passion in fathers to be great fathers to thier kids, to not let precious moments pass, and to love your kids like there is no tomorrow. I definitely recommend this film to fathers everywhere even if one isn't religous.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  13. FaithinGod

    Way to go Sherwood. Another great movie. Maybe it will plant the seed in our young and older fathers to be better dads. Whether or not they believe in God, maybe it make them think about how they stand up a a father. Can't wait to see this one.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  14. J

    wow a feel good church made movie that has nothing to do with Jesus.

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

      If they wore sandals would that have help? What is your perception of Jesus? The movie is about commitment, love and family. I'm pretty sure that may have been mentioned in the Bible.

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

      That was my thinking as well. Seems as though there are no hidden agendas here. No evangelism. That's something I appreciate.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  15. Lisa B.

    If it doesn't have babes and blasts in it, I highly doubt men will go see it. It sounds like the male version of a "chick-flick."

    October 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  16. Nataly

    awesome cant wait too see it

    October 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  17. Guer

    I am so happy that this film came out. Tired of all the movies filled with nasty language. It's getting harder to take my nephew to the movies.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  18. TG

    One day we all will give an account for our life.

    Amo a Jesús

    October 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  19. gordong

    People need to realize that there are two sides to the coin. Its impossible to be a good father to children when their mothers are a barriier to fathers having great relationships with the children. Not all marriages are fairy-tales with great endings, however, even if a marriage ends, I believe that some mothers need to stop being vindictive by manipulating the children into believing their fathers do not care for them. There are numerous instances where fathers have to fight to have court-mandated access to their kids, and fighting the mothers become an exercise in futility. So what happens? They admit defeat and move on, and this is a vicous cycle that iwill be repeated for every generation, especially since the courts tend to believe every ridiculous claim or accusation brought by mothers against their ex-husbands as an expedient way of keeping them out of the picture.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  20. Jan

    I saw this movie over the weekend. Interesting to note that in the photo that is pictured with this article, the men's hands are clasped in front of them. But in the scene itself, the men are holding Bibles. I noticed this during the movie because I was wondering what they were holding... just a random fact.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 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.