Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
October 3, 2011
Like Bonnie Tyler, we are apparently all holding out for a hero.
Kim Hollis: Courageous, the faith-based film about cops from Sherwood Pictures Ministry and Sony, earned $9.1 million this weekend in only 1,161 venues. How did the studio accomplish such a result?
Edwin Davies: I think they realized that making Christian films in a predominantly Christian nation is a pretty solid business plan. They've been very shrewd in targeting their audience, getting the word out to the churches and focusing on the connection that Courageous has to Fireproof, selling it almost as a sequel to that film (which it kind of is if you swap out firemen for cops) and so far it has acted like a sequel. They are preaching to the converted here and it's paid off handsomely.
Brett Beach: I agree about the de facto sequel aspect this has to Fireproof, but the fact that this opened stronger than that without a Kirk Cameron lead (more theaters, yes, but a fairly similar per theater average) suggests that writer/producer/director/actor Alex Kendrick has officially become the "new" Tyler Perry hypenate-type in targeting films at an audience that is frequently underserved. His name and work is becoming associated with quality and allows his films to break out in a way that something like the recent Seven Days in Utopia did not. All that, and he does it quite inexpensively (this is his first film to breach the $1 million mark in budget costs).
Reagen Sulewski: I like that we're considering the absence of Kirk Cameron as a potential drawback to this film. I think we're definitely seeing a renewed rise in the ability of small, but focused groups to drive demand of specialized projects. The question becomes how much staying power they have, and I think the example of Tyler Perry is a salient one. Those films, despite their positive reception from their intended audience, never have anything in the way of staying power. They're not getting a lot of looky-loos, as it were. Maybe that's not really necessary to get more of these type of films into theaters, though, and if they can keep costs down, one or two of these a year can cater to their niche.
Bruce Hall: Americans live in a nation where some 75% of the residents identify themselves as "Christian." I don't doubt that's true. I would further wager that a minority of that number fall under the heading of "Evangelical." For better or worse, these are the people who tend to drive Christian related media in America, and for some reason they see themselves as horribly persecuted. You'd think more people would take advantage of this, because it sure works well for Fox News. There are huge segments of the population out there hungry to be told things that they already believe, and it's not just Christians. It doesn't take a lot of money to tell a very human story, and in this case it paid off well. It also doesn't hurt that the premise is somewhat realistic. Religion is something that most non-evangelical people tend not to think about until they have to - and tragedy makes us all introspective regardless of our faith, or lack thereof. Audiences respond to relatable stories, and when the message and the target are on the same wavelength, it's usually a recipe for success.