Industry News

‘After Death’ Already Year’s Second Biggest Documentary

Angel Studios' film debuts in fourth place in crowed Hollywood box office race

Angel Studios knows it can’t hit a “Sound of Freedom”-sized homer every time at bat.

The company entered the theatrical space earlier this year with “His Only Son,” an indie drama that quickly recouped its costs.

And then some.

The studio’s “Sound of Freedom” became the year’s unlikeliest blockbuster, earning nearly $240 million worldwide. It also out-grossed wannabe blockbusters like “Fast X,” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” stateside.

“After Death” won’t come close to those figures.

The latest Angel Studios film is a sobering look at a possible afterlife. Near-death survivors share what they saw as their bodies clung to their final breaths. Documentaries make a fraction of their fictional peers, with most lucky to break the $1 million mark at nationwide theaters.

“After Death” did more than that.

The film earned $5 million in its opening frame, strong enough for a fourth place finish nationwide behind “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” One reason why? The film opened in more than 2,000 theaters. That’s the kind of rollout very few documentaries enjoy.

The gambit paid off.

The movie immediately jumped to second place in highest grossing documentary category. Only “BTS: Yet to Come” has earned more in 2023 – $7.8 million.

BTS (방탄소년단) 'Yet To Come in Cinemas' Official 2D Trailer (ENG)

Film critics were split on the movie, with the far-Left excoriating “After Death.”

In a different life, “After Death” would be street trash. Its presentation would be as a small white pamphlet, printed in earnest and packed with bizarre stories overflowing from someone’s desire to share their faith, only for this paper to become more pollution.

Others, like critic Mike McGranagham, praised the film’s compelling content.

Regardless of where you land on the issue, listening to the stories related in After Death is consistently captivating. Your opinion on the concept of an afterlife will be challenged and brought into greater focus.

Audience reactions at proved more generous via an 87 percent “fresh” rating.

Director Stephen Gray says the project came to him following the death of his 36-year-old brother-in-law.

The film’s impressive box office tally marks a quiet trend in the marketplace. Documentaries rarely get the attention that mainstream fiction films enjoy. Yet this year’s top-earning documentaries have one thing in common.


Four of the top five releases have a deeply spiritual component.


  1. I am not looking for anything especially not attention… My story: Well now on to my story of Angels……,

    On the accident night:
    As always we gathered In the barn at night while Dad milked. No TV then … just family.

    I watched my big brothers every move…. he was the source of laughter and fun.

    That particular night Dad told him he was ready for another cows bag to be washed. I know I was told to stay out away from the stantioned cows.

    I believe 2 of the three north stantions were full. I rushed in to help…. Bub my brother, was on North side of cow, that’s the operating side. I was going in on the other side.

    I only know what I was told here:

    The cow kicked… throwing me against the concrete gutter hitting my head. Dad picked me up by one foot, shook, to get me breathing; he and Mother then rushed me to Carroll hospital .

    Windows on the west wall, bed on east wall, door to room on east wall, south end.

    My memory:
    looking down at the room, a lot of people were there on chairs facing the bed, which I did not look at. I saw sun light coming in the window. To my right near the ceiling the wrinkly glass of the transit above the door. ( it was cracked open just a little). I was right next to ceiling.

    I saw my cousin Darrell running around and Aunt Hazel swatting him to settle him down.

    I am in the air with two beings, one on either side. The one on the left communicated to the one on my right: “don’t you think we should show this little girl some of this beautiful world she is about to leave?”

    I see clouds or gray separating; as I look down there is a beautiful bay, blue water glistening, Trees swaying (now I believe they resembled palm trees …. then I had no reference of what they were)
    Next: I was laying on my back in the sand and waves gently coming in and out… warm. I clearly remember how it felt and to this day I have not laid in the sand with tide of waves coming in and out. I am convinced I know how it would feel.

    Clarification: in – 1950… We did not have a TV, I had never been to a movie, didn’t eat in a restaurant until Bub my brother, took me to one on my 13 birthday, no summer shoes, bath in tin tub on Saturday night, cold water running in, slop bucket under sink. Biggest trip was to Grandmas 5 miles away. (where Mom & Dad lived by Gray).

    What I’m saying is this: I did not have anything in my brain to create that memory…,

    I also knew the Angels I was with were male… years later I asked my brother Don, who is very knowledgeable about the Bible, he said all angels are male….

    When I became conscious, mother said my first words were : I was with angels.

    I didn’t know what this memory was until I was in my 20’s and watched a program on “near death”. It then dawned on me why I was up at the ceiling near the transit over the door.

    All I know now is: “I do not fear death as I’ve already met the welcoming committee….”

    I loved the movie…. others experienced a something similar.

    PS My Aunt’s country church was holding a prayer meeting for me that same night.

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