'War Room' 1st at box office opening night
War Room, promoting the power of a disciplined prayer life, grossed $4.045 million on Aug. 28, averaging $3,564 on each of 1,135 screens. Straight Outta Compton, an R-rated movie about the American hip-hop "gangsta rap" group N.W.A., took in $3.85 million that same night, averaging $1,225 on 3,142 screens.
While Straight Outta Compton took first place for full weekend sales with $13.2 million and maintained the top spot it debuted in three weekends ago, War Room did better than industry insiders predicted by grossing $11 million. War Room's per-screen average for the weekend was described as "robust" at $9,692.
"Sony's faith-based film from their Affirm division flew so far under the radar that it didn't even get a Cinemascore," Box Office Mojo reported. "But it nearly stole Compton's title and, at the same time, became the biggest hit for the Kendrick brothers, director Alex Kendrick and his writer/producer brother, Stephen. Their modestly-budgeted flicks have a great return on investment."
The movie is the Kendrick brothers' first project independent of Sherwood Pictures, the filmmaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., where both brothers are associate pastors. It is also their first offering since the successful "Courageous," which grossed $34.5 million at the box office four years ago and sold 5 million DVDs.
War Room stars noted Bible teachers Priscilla Shirer in a lead role and Beth Moore in the supporting cast. Shirer is cast as a young wife and mother who heeds the advice of an older, wiser woman to establish a room in her home for prayer -- a war room -- and to pray earnestly for her husband, marriage, child and home.
While Southern Baptists and other faith leaders promoted War Room as a must see, TV Guide said the film's success was contrary to the forecast of secular critics.
"Despite receiving nearly universal bad reviews from critics," TV Guide reported, "the faith-based film War Room emerged as a formidable force at the box office this weekend and almost knocked Straight Outta Compton out of first place."
Southern Baptists recommending the film include Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church of northwest Arkansas; SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page; LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer, and Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.
The Southern Baptist North American Mission Board has linked its Evangelism Resource Center (ERC) prayer line to the War Room website, offering prayer at 888-537-8720, and through the FindItHere.com online chat. The ERC offers personalized prayer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year all over the U.S., offering callers the life-changing hope found only in Jesus, and pointing them to local churches for discipleship, according to the website.
The film is accompanied by several resources from B&H Publishing Group and LifeWay including a book by the Kendrick brothers titled "The Battle Plan for Prayer," and a book titled "Fervent" by Shirer, a New York Times best-selling author. Resources include two children's books written by the Kendricks, "Prayer Works: Prayer Training and Strategy for Kids" and "Peter's Perfect Prayer Place." A "War Room Bible Study" and Church Campaign Kit include a 5-week small group study, sermon outlines and promotional items.