The duo's "churchy" films routinely outperform their Hollywood counterparts. And it's happening again.
Here’s a list of major Hollywood releases which made less money than the Christian drama “Overcomer” this year.
Better take a breath. It’s a long one.
The Kid Who Would be King
47 Meters Down: Uncaged
The Best of Enemies
Blinded By the Light
The Dead Don’t Die
The aforementioned films enjoyed wide release patterns, many much wider than “Overcomer.” “Serenity,” for example, hit 2,561 theaters en route to its disappointing tally. “Overcomer” is currently in 1,700-plus theaters.
Some of the listed films boasted Oscar winners (Anne Hathaway, Sam Rockwell) while others featured comedy icons (Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy).
They still couldn’t compete with “Overcomer,” which after its second weekend will have earned roughly $19.2 million, according to the far-left Deadline.com. The Kendrick brothers film stars Alex Kendrick as a high school coach forced to oversee an anemic cross-country team, or rather, player.
Young Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thompson) may be asthmatic, but she refuses to give up on herself, or her school.
The brothers Kendrick – Alex and Stephen – have a short but potent resume. Their filmmaking journey began with 2003’s “Flywheel,” a micro-indie that delivered the ultimate proof of concept. Christian audiences will flock to stories that directly address their needs, no matter the budget.
The film sold 350,000 DVDs, and the Kendrick brothers didn’t look back.
They followed “Flywheel” with “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof,” “Courageous” and “War Room.” All turned very tidy profits based on their modest budgets and healthy returns.
“War Room,” for example, earned $67.7 million on a $3 million budget. Those are numbers any studio executive would kill to replicate, even uber-producer Jason Blum.
Film critics are no allies for the filmmaking duo. “Overcomer” earned a 40 percent “rotten” rating at RottenTomatoes.com, a typical score for their movies. Here are a few select critiques:
- The whole is cheap, cheesy, and, to put it charitably, churchy. – RogerEbert.com
- “Overcomer” offers nothing in the way of nuance – even its title is awkward – and, also, no respite from its religious propagandizing. – Variety
- Scene after rambling scene, everyone in front of the camera spells out the script’s messaging with verbose, bold-faced statements that do nothing to improve the overall quality of the cast’s efforts. Overacting runs rampant. – TheWrap.com
“War Room” generated an even worse tally – 33 percent “rotten” – to an 87 percent “fresh” from general audiences.
And that speaks volumes.
The Kendricks make movies for a very specific audience – Christians who don’t see their lives, their passions, reflected on the big screen. It’s why Sony partnered with the brothers on “Overcomer,” released as part of its faith-friendly Affirm Films shingle.
A typical Kendrick brothers film eschews “name” actors and lacks the marketing muscle most movies enjoy. Their filmmaking grew more polished over the years, but they haven’t attracted stars like Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Garner, veterans who might coax secular audiences into theaters.
What’s more intriguing about the brothers’ success is the current state of faith-based cinema. For every recent smash like “Heaven Is for Real” and “Miracles from Heaven” other faith-friendly films have stumbled.
It’s bulletproof, and “Overcomer” only confirms it.
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That brand is so strong it’s used as part of the filmmakers’ marketing strategy. “Overcomer’s” web site features a “share tools” page where Christians can easily spread the word about the film on their own.
Comic book movie geeks faithfully share stills, trailers and more from the latest MCU entry. Kendrick brothers fans, in turn, offer a similar service to their latest stories.
The Kendrick brothers may never earn a “fresh” score at RottenTomatoes.com. Most film critics lean to the left, a group resistant to faith-based yarns.
The brothers don’t care enough to change their ways. And, given the results so far, they have little impetus to do so.
“They say we’re preaching to the choir, but you know what? Sometimes the choir needs a good reminder,” Alex Kendrick once told The Hollywood Reporter.