Faith-based flick "To Save a Life" didn't make it into the box office top ten on its opening weekend but saw success similar to "Facing the Giants," which went on to be recognized as one of the most inspirational movies of 2006.
With an estimated weekend gross of $1.5 million, "To Save a Life" came in No. 15 – the highest among films showing in less than 1,000 theaters. In 2006, faith-based movie "Facing the Giants" scored $1.3 million in 441 theaters opening weekend, coming in No. 12.
"To Save a Life" was also shown in 441 theaters.
"We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the film," stated Jim Britts, screenwriter of "To Save a Life."
"The grassroots support for 'To Save a Life,' even before it release[d], has been amazing," added director Brian Baugh.
"While teens obviously love blockbuster films, they also aren't afraid to be challenged by films like 'To Save a Life.' They seem to embrace and respond to the authenticity of the movie and are proud of the fact that there is a movie out there that deals with real issues that they face everyday," he said.
Created by New Song Pictures and Outreach Films, and distributed through Samuel Goldwyn Films, "To Save a Life" tells the story of high school star athlete and all-around popular guy Jake Taylor, who crumbles under pressure after the suicide death of his childhood friend, who he ditched three years ago for popularity.
His heart wrenched over his friend's death, Jake begins wrestling with life questions and searches for answers in places he never expected, including church.
As the film follows Jakes on his search, it addresses a host of issues, including suicide, peer pressure, divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion and the authenticity of Christians. Youth organizations have been buzzing about the potential of the film's impact – in society as well as the Christian film industry.
"Maybe 'To Save a Life' will mark the death of cheesy Christian movies by raising the bar when it comes to quality movie making," commented Dare 2 Share Ministries founder and president Greg Stier ahead of the movie's release.
Notably, however, New Song Community Church in Oceanside, Calif., the church behind the film, isn't the first to go toe-to-toe with Hollywood blockbusters.
Associate pastors Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., have released two Hollywood-level contenders – the latest of which, "Fireproof," debuted at No. 4 at the box office opening weekend with a gross of $6.8 million.
"Fireproof," which hit theaters September 2008, followed the surprising success of their first big hit, "Facing the Giants," in 2006.
Like the Kendrick brothers, youth pastor Britts is hoping that his movie will touch lives in a profound way.
"It offers an uplifting message and alternative to the hopelessness teens may face as they struggle with challenges including violence, suicide, and unplanned pregnancy," he stated.
The film's promoters are encouraging moviegoers to support the movie in the weeks to come and keep it in theaters for the long run.
"Facing the Giants" lasted 17 weeks in theaters nationwide, grossing over $10 million and going on to sell over one million DVD units.
The movie, which centers on the life of a football coach who has never had a winning season in six years, was recognized as one of the most inspirational movies of 2006, according to Sports Illustrated. Furthermore, churches picked up on the movie to use for instruction and discipleship within their ministries.
"Fireproof," which had a budget five times larger than "Facing the Giants" and close to that of "To Save a Life," lasted 18 weeks and grossed $33.4 million in ticket sales.
All three films were distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films.