Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

May 14, 2014

That's a clown(ey) shirt, bro.

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Kim Hollis: Moms' Night Out, the latest faith-based release from Tri-Star, debuted with $4.3 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?

Edwin Davies: First off, I think I need to commend the makers of the film on their correct use of an apostrophe in their title, even though it seems like the only thing they got right about the film.

Compared to the run of faith-based successes we've seen so far this year, this might seem a little mediocre, even though it's actually pretty solid when you compare it to the majority of films targeted at a Christian audience. Why did Moms' Night Out not catch on to quite the extent that similar films have? I think the main problem was that the ads weren't shameless enough in pushing the fact that it's a faith-based film. If you compare its ads to those for God's Not Dead and Heaven is for Real, those films put their religiosity up-front and center, so it's hard to mistake them as anything other than preaching to the choir. Moms' Night Out, by comparison, just seems like an intensely mild comedy starring people you sort of recognize. It didn't have any star power, a particularly strong premise or trailers that were funny/preachy enough to really break out, but it only cost $5 million so Tri-Star will probably walk away from this with relatively little damage.

Matthew Huntley: Wow, prior to reading this post, I didn't even realize Moms' Night Out was faith-based, and I'm guessing that most other people didn't, either. I honestly thought it was a raunchy comedy targeted toward middle-aged females. Clearly there were some advertising holes (or maybe it was just me), but in the end, I think this movie just had too low a profile to be a major player this weekend--Mother's Day or not. Still, as Edwin mentioned, it cost very little to make, so it will likely end up in the black.

Bruce Hall: No Matthew, it wasn't just you. I saw the title of this movie and assumed Cameron Diaz was double dipping.


Films like this one are, ironically, not unlike slasher pictures. If you can keep the budget below ten million, your target demo alone is often enough to make the project profitable. Everyone's emphasizing what a financial beating this film took compared to the top finishers, but Moms' Night Out cost $5 million to make. It has already earned back 80% of its production budget and the Faithful will ensure that figure at least doubles before all is said and done. If you took the time to see a film like this in theaters, odds are you're picking it up on video as well. I don't see this result as anything but a success.

Max Braden: An important element of that number is that it opened at only a thousand theaters, which gives it an okay average. (Heaven is For Real opened with a much stronger $9k per theater.) Reviews of the movie are pretty poor, though. I think if faith-based movies have a box office challenge, it's that if you just preach to the choir, they may be the only ones to sit through the sermon. I think the argument could be made that The Best Man Holiday was a faith-based movie despite its R-rated nature. Faith-based movies don't have to be stuck with a niche audience if they start with the same type of character and plot approaches that sell mainstream movies to mainstream audiences.

Kim Hollis: There is not a thing wrong with the box office performance of Moms’ Night Out. It was barely marketed and I assume that audience was driven by the same sort of grass roots/social media efforts of the other films that we’ve seen this year. But whereas those films appealed to a wide demographic (families, men, women… really, anyone of faith), Moms’ Night Out is targeted to a demographic *within* a demographic. If you look at it that way, earning more than $4 million is pretty stellar.

David Mumpower: Moms' Night Out is more along the lines of what has been the historic expectation for the opening weekend of a faith-based film. I do think it's telling that several people here did not realize that was the subject matter, which speaks to how difficult it has become to differentiate the various niche films thus far in 2014. As is the regularly case when a slew of blockbusters are released in a short period of time, something gets lost in the shuffle in a saturated marketplace. This movie has done quite well relative to its budget. It's just that people have gotten a bit jaded about our expectations for faith-based cinema due to its unprecedented hot streak.

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