"Not Easily Broken" is the latest faith-based film to break into the box office top ten with its weekend debut, grossing around $5.6 million in just 724 theaters across the nation.
It's also the latest pro-marriage movie to come out as divorce rates within the United States remains high and an alarming 70 percent of Americans believe divorce is "morally acceptable."
Based on the novel by megachurch minister Bishop T.D. Jakes, "Not Easily Broken" tells the story of Dave and Clarice Johnson (played by Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henderson, respectively), a couple whose two-decades-old marriage has been strained by lack of communication and conflicting life priorities.
Dave, the head of a small construction firm, is not too happy with how things have been turning out for him. His dream of playing professional baseball had been dashed by an injury, his bread-winning wife orders him around, and his desire for children are pushed aside to make room for his wife's career plans.
To make matters worse, when his mother-in-law moves in to help Clarice after a car accident, Dave is pushed even further away from her and closer to another woman. Can Dave and Clarice's sage old pastor get them through this? Or were they just not meant to be?
Like the recent box office hit "Fireproof," "Not Easily Broken" focuses on the need for couples to have God in the marriage equation.
"I think it's a message about family, about marriage and some of the struggles that you face in a marriage," added Jakes, the senior pastor of 30,000-member The Potters House in Dallas, according to Charisma magazine. "And it encourages people to fight through those struggles and to persevere and that our marital relationships are certainly worth fighting for."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control, the marriage rate in 2005 was 7.5 per 1,000 total population while the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000.
And, more recently, a poll by Gallup's Values and Beliefs survey last 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.
Amid these trends, movies such as "Fireproof" and "Not Easily Broken" have been welcomed by pro-family advocates and groups, particularly the former, which drew the support of Focus on the Family, Outreach, FamilyLife, The Marriage CoMission, America's Family Coaches, AMFM, Marriage Alive Communications, and MarriageToday, among others.
To date, "Fireproof" has made over $33 million after its $6.8 million debut last September.
Both the budgets for "Fireproof" and "Not Easily Broken" are larger than most Christian films but still small by Hollywood standards. For "Not Easily Broken," the production budget was $5 million while it was $500,000 for "Fireproof."
Reported budgets for the eight movies that placed ahead of "Not Easily Broken" this past weekend ranged from $30 million to $150 million.
Despite the small budgets and significantly fewer numbers of theaters, both "Fireproof" and "Not Easily Broken" have made their presence known in the box office and are considered part of a faith-based movie-making movement that is increasingly making waves in Hollywood.
"Jesus said 'Go into all the world,'" Jakes told Charisma.
"Going into all the world doesn't mean a camel and a pair of sandals today, but it means invading the Internet. It means using the telephone; it means using the iPod. It means using the computer, and the silver screen becomes a way to go into all the world," he said.