The promoters and supporters of the upcoming faith-based film "Fireproof" have less than a week to mobilize more churchgoers and moviegoers to help make Sept. 26-28 a high-impact opening weekend.
As the latest project of Sherwood Pictures, the movie-making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., "Fireproof" is set to open this weekend in more than 800 theaters across the nation. And with a successful opening, expansion is inevitable.
"Opening Weekend is the key to any movie's success," the film's promoters stated in the "Fireproof" website, FireproofTheMovie.com. "If a movie does well on Opening Weekend, it plays longer in the theaters where it opens and expands into other cities. If it doesn't do well ... you get the picture!"
To bring the movie to their cities, some supporters have gone as far as buying up to thousands of advanced tickets – which are later sold or given away.
One person, Penny Crowder of Fargo, N.D., alone purchased 1,000 tickets – the minimum required to bring it to her town – and is now selling them to reimburse her costs as well as to raise money for World Vision's AIDS ministry.
"I've known so many people this year that have had marital problems," Crowder told Baptist Press. "I personally am single and have never been married. But of course I have a lot of married friends, and I have seen the challenges, and I just thought, 'This is an investment in my friends,' and if I can't sell 1,000 tickets in the Fargo area – I'm an insurance agent, for goodness sakes ...."
Others, like Greg and Marci Horton of Fresno, Calif., have simply been sending e-mail invitations and verbal invitations at their local churches.
"We can't wait to see the movie and we can't wait to see the impact it will have on our own marriage," they wrote on the "Fireproof" website.
There are also some who are finding unique ways to help give "Fireproof" an extra big boost this weekend.
"My sisters and I don't have the funds to provide tickets for people, as much as we would like to," wrote "Jessica," who submitted her story to the "Fireproof" website. "Instead, we're offering 'tickets' for free baby-sitting to several families we know. On the coupon, we wrote that it is good for a night of free sitting so the parents can see 'Fireproof.' It's our hope that they will use them, and that God will use our small offering to work in mighty ways."
Ministries such as Focus on the Family are also putting some weight behind the upcoming movie.
"As Director of Marriage for Focus on the Family, years of experience in writing, speaking and working with couples on marriage issues, I have never come across something as strong and potent as Fireproof in helping couples visualize the exactness of real life marriage," wrote Mitch Temple in a review of the film. "The producers, writers and actors do an exceptional job in portraying real life for many couples today. Yet, the brilliantly produced film radiates messages of authentic determination, faith and hope, even for those of us who have felt like giving up on our marriages."
"This movie moved me deeply," he added.
To help publicize "Fireproof," Focus on the Family's flagship radio show is broadcasting Dr. James Dobson's interview with Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the film's director and producer, on Sept. 22 and 23.
Focus on the Family is also providing marriage resources and counseling referrals to those couples profoundly impacted by the film.
"Tell everyone you know to attend opening weekend this stirring expression of marital restoration," urged Temple. "Pray with us that God will overlay this nation with a renewed sense of the beauty of marriage and revival fueled by blatant determination to have the kind of marriage that He intends for us all."
The upcoming release of "Fireproof" comes as married couples have become a minority in America, with studies showing that 50 percent of people – regardless of religious affiliation – will be divorced at least once in their lifetime.
And, more recently, a poll by Gallup's 2008 Values and Beliefs survey earlier this year found that an alarming 70 percent of Americans now believe that divorce is "morally acceptable." The latest figure – the highest on record – represents an 11 percent increase from just 7 years ago and a 3 percent increase from 2 years ago.