Churches and youth ministries have bought out thousands of movie theater seats for the big screen debut of "To Save A Life" on Friday.
Way before its release, the independent film has already drawn a large fan base and sparked a grassroots movement of reaching out to hurting teens and saving lives.
"I've received emails from students that walked out of the theatre and threw their razor blades away because they are not going to cut themselves anymore," screenwriter and youth pastor Jim Britts told The Christian Post.
"I’ve heard stories of students struggling with suicidal thoughts see the film and decide to now be a part of the solution and reach out to their hurting and lonely classmates. I’ve heard several stories about students starting lunch time groups on their campuses with the goal of inviting people who normally eat by themselves."
The film tackles a host of issues from suicide, cutting and peer pressure to pregnancy and abortion – issues that are real-life challenges teens today face, Britts says. Each character in the film and many of the scenes are based off of students Britts has had in his youth group at Newsong Church in Oceanside, Calif., and their experiences.
More than a movie, "To Save A Life" was produced with the intent of opening the public's eyes to the reality of struggling teens and motivating students to reach out to their fellow peers.
The message is resonating with teens throughout the country.
"We’ve screened the film to thousands of church leaders, school administrators and teens across the country and the response has been through the roof," said Britts.
"Before even seeing the film, people are getting that this is so much more than just an entertaining movie and wanting to be a part of this movement of reaching out to the hurting and lonely," he highlighted. "We hope this film empowers its viewers to save lots of lives."
"To Save A Life" has more than 67,000 fans on its Facebook page, with over 2,000 fans being added every day.
Over 200 groups, called "Lifeline Squads," have pledged to pre-sell a minimum of 1,000 tickets for opening weekend and 2,500 youth groups have planned to take their students and friends to watch the film.
Some are buying out complete showtimes to distribute the tickets to teens for a free viewing and teachers are offering extra credit to students who see the film.
Following the opening weekend, outreaches to hurting teens are being planned in several cities.
Explaining the significant of the movie title, Britt said, "We want to empower teens to save the physical and spiritual lives of their classmates at school."
"To Save A Life" features a cast and crew with Hollywood experience, including actors Randy Wayne, Deja Kreutzberg, and Robert Bailey Jr., and director Brian Baugh. The film opens in 430 theaters Friday.