'End of the Spear' Places in Box-Office Top 10

"End of the Spear" was in the box-office top 10 this past opening weekend, impressing industry watchers but falling short of the producer's hope.

Based on the true story of five American missionaries who were slain by the Waodani people and whose families helped bring peace within the tribe, the film released in nearly 1,200 theaters Friday and took in $4.7 million, placing it in the No. 8 spot behind "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." First-time producer Mart Green hoped for $20 million opening weekend.

"That's very respectable," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "They're in the top 10 (for the weekend), and there were a lot of other independent films out there competing against it. We'll see how it carries over to next weekend."

For months, "End of the Spear" was marketed at thousands of churches. While the independent film was considered a test of the depth of the Christian audience, it did not have the advantages that former Christian-valued movies had. "The Passion of the Christ" was directed by “A-list” actor Mel Gibson while "Narnia" was adapted from the popular children's book that has generations of fans as well as a $75 million Disney marketing budget.

"This is the perfect test to gauge the faith-based audience," said Dergarabedian. "You can't underestimate this market. The usual rules don't apply (to churchgoing audiences) because they can rally a crowd quickly."

The film has received mixed reviews from the Christian audience, ranging from high praise to strong rebuke. Many have expressed disappointment, with some questioning whether the Gospel message is strong enough in the movie and others questioning why the leading roles went to a practicing homosexual “activist.” Still, other evangelicals endorsed the film both for Christians and non-Christians as its message of love, forgiveness and change conveys the heart of the Christian path.