ALBANY, Ga. – After much anticipation, the makers of runaway hits "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants" announced Sunday night that their next film project will be about the need for godly fathers.
"Courageous," the fourth film by movie-making church ministry Sherwood Pictures, will follow four police officers as they wrestle to make different decisions that will impact the lives of their families. The four men will go through a tragedy together that will challenge them to fulfill the role of fathers as God intended it to be.
"We believe God is calling us as a church family and through a movie to call men to rise up to spiritual leadership in their families," announced Stephen Kendrick, co-screenwriter of "Courageous," to about 1,300 people gathered at Sherwood Church in Albany, Ga.
In their announcement, Sherwood Pictures noted that 4 of 10 marriages end in divorce and more than a third of all children live away from their biological fathers.
"God calls Himself our father and … a father is supposed to represent the Lord to his children," stated Kendrick. "[But] we often say that the fathers in this generation are misrepresenting God and children are growing up thinking that God is like their earthly father."
During a reception after Sunday's announcement, Kendrick said not all the stories of the four fathers in "Courageous" will have happy endings because the purpose is to get male viewers to walk away from the theater asking themselves what kind of man they want to be.
Though Kendrick and his brother, Alex, said they are still in the process of writing "Courageous," they promise it will include their trademark humor, powerful spiritual message, drama, and for the first time, action sequences.
Sherwood Pictures, which the Kendrick brothers started in 2002, became a national sensation in 2006 with the release of the sleeper hit "Facing the Giants," which grossed $10 million on a production budget of just $100,000.
Following the success of "Facing the Giants," the movie ministry released "Fireproof," which has been credited for saving many marriages. The 2008 film was produced on a $500,000 budget but recorded box office grosses of $33 million. The accompanying The Love Dare book debuted as a New York Times bestseller and remained in the top five for more than a year. Three million The Love Dare books have been sold.
Pastor Simmons of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, who was present for Sherwood's announcement Sunday, said he expects the movie "Courageous" to have "a major, major" impact on the African-American community given the impact the church has seen from "Fireproof."
He said his church plans to use the film "Courageous" – as they did with "Fireproof" and "The Love Dare" book – to minister to the African-American community in Albany, where absent fathers is a big problem.
"There is a need in our community for men to be able to see what a real father looks like and I think the venue of a movie will make it easier for men to receive it," Simmons said.
Sherwood Church Senior Pastor Michael Catt, who is part of the leadership team of Sherwood Pictures, said the hope for the fourth film is that it will help "turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers."
The film is tentatively set to begin filming next spring with a release date in early 2011.