Following two successful weeks of showing for the independent film "Bella," the movie's producers and distributors are pushing to keep the film's momentum going in spite of several Hollywood giants entering theaters this weekend.
"Bella," which placed in the box office top 20 last week with its second consecutive $1 million plus grossing weekend, will be up against stiff competition this weekend, with major studio productions – such as "Lions for Lambs," starring Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, and Meryl Streep; "Fred Claus," starring Vince Vaughn; and the Joel and Ethan Cole directed "No Country for Old Men" – opening up the Fall season.
With a goal to stay active in theaters, "Bella" promoters are hoping to have the film showing on 400 to 500 screens by next Friday.
Recent support for the film has come from popular movie website Yahoo Movies, which currently ranks "Bella" as the highest-rated movie in America. Other movie websites, including Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes, have also given "Bella" favorable reviews.
The bulk of the fan-base for "Bella," however, lies in the church community, which producers are targeting for block ticket sales.
Christians have commended the film for its inspirational storyline and pro-life message.
"Most movies follow a predictable story line," said Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright, who attended an advanced screening of the film. "Bella, like real life, surprises you with a subtle yet profound story of exceptional grace."
Others have praised the high production value in "Bella," noting the film's quality as something that will broaden its appeal beyond the Christian community.
"For too long we have thought that movies with Christian themes were supposed to be sermons, but that is precisely the kind of thinking that makes a movie fail on every level," expressed conservative ministry leader Chuck Colson in a recent commentary. "People do not go to movies to be preached at. They go because they love and need good stories, and that is what good movies give them."
In the movie, famed Mexican actor Eduardo Verástegui plays José, a rising soccer star whose career abruptly ends after he's involved in a tragic accident that leaves a girl dead. He finds himself working as a chef in an upscale Mexican restaurant in New York – a job that leads him to cross paths with TV actress Tammy Blanchard, who plays Nina, a waitress who recently learns that she's pregnant. After Nina is fired for her repeated tardiness, José follows to console her and learns of her pregnancy and her plans for abortion. He decides to talk her out of it. In helping her, José finds renewal and atonement.
On the Web: Local showtimes and locations at www.bellathemovie.com.