Faith-based movie "Letters to God" rounded out the box office top ten in its debut weekend with a gross of $1.25 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Though small compared to the No. 1 movie of the weekend, "Date Night," which grossed around $27 million, the earnings of "Letters to God" places it around where "Facing the Giants" was when it came out in 2006.
"Facing the Giants," considered one of the big screen pioneers for independent Christian films, debuted with a $1.3 million opening weekend and went on to gross over $10 million with just a $100,000 production budget.
Though 30 times larger, the production budget of "Letters to God" is still small by Hollywood standards and makes a $1.25 million debut a good start.
The movie, produced by one of the filmmakers behind successful faith-based flicks "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof," tells the story of a young cancer-stricken boy who corresponds regularly with God through prayers in the form of letters.
Though initially unsure about what to do with the letters, the beleaguered mailman assigned to deliver the ailing boy's letters decides to make a series of choices that will change his life and help the young boy touch the lives of those around him.
"Inspired by a true story, Letters to God is an intimate, moving and often funny story about the galvanizing effect one child's belief can have on his family, friends and community," the film's promoters say.
Presently, the movie has over 60,000 "fans" on Facebook and looks to continue building up the momentum that's picked up since the Christian community flexed its muscle in front of Hollywood with the release of "The Passion of the Christ."
The release of "Letters to God" comes as more Christian filmmakers are taking their projects to the big screen, encouraged by the success of "The Passion of the Christ" and even more so by smaller, independent films like "Fireproof," which was produced on a $500,000 budget and ended up grossing more than $33 million in the United States.
Prior to the release of "The Passion of the Christ" in February 2004, only two Christian films grossed over $10 million, according to Box Office Mojo. After the release of Mel Gibson's film, nine more went on hit at least eight figures. "The Passion of the Christ" and the first two film adaptations of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series even hit nine-digit figures – not surprising, however, as they were the products of Hollywood.
The next installment in the "Narnia" series, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," is expected to hit theaters this coming December. The next movie by the brothers behind "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof," meanwhile, is set to hit theaters some time next year.