After 20 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List for Paperback Advice, The Love Dare is back at No. 1 as the book and the movie from which it spawned continue making their marks in the entertainment industry and beyond.
Originally a plot device in the faith-based independent film "Fireproof," The Love Dare has reached 2.2 million copies in print and played a major role in the renewal and salvation of marriages far and wide.
"Far more than a movie or a book, this is a movement," exclaimed John Thompson, marketing vice president for B&H Publishers, which prints and distributes the paperback version of The Love Dare, the leather-like Legacy Edition, and most recently the Spanish version, El Desafío del Amor.
"Lives changed and grassroots endorsements spread like wildfire. What a privilege to witness the phenomenon at ground level," Thompson added.
Before hitting the printers, The Love Dare was merely a plot device in "Fireproof," the latest movie by the Kendrick brothers of Albany, Ga., which raked in over $33 million in ticket sales.
In "Fireproof," fireman Caleb Holt (played by Kirk Cameron) is asked by his father to take a 40-day marriage challenge before moving forward with divorce proceedings to end his seven-year marriage to wife Catherine (played by Erin Bethea). The "challenge" is presented in the form of a Scripture-based book, The Love Dare, which Holt agrees to read and which eventually transforms him and his view of love, marriage, and faith.
According to the movie's promoters, pre-screenings for "Fireproof" left audiences asking how they could get the book.
In response, brothers and associate pastors Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who together directed and produced "Fireproof," respectively, made the effort to get it out.
"We shut out the world and wrote for several weeks," recalled Stephen Kendrick. "We weren't expecting such demand so early."
The result was The Love Dare, a book that helps readers learn each day about a unique aspect of the nature of love and offers a "dare" to help implement that characteristic into their marriage.
Before its release on Sept. 26, over 300,000 copies of the pro-marriage book were already sold and a third round of printing was underway. And as the movie "Fireproof" continued to draw people nationwide after its Sept. 26 debut, so did The Love Dare.
"Every movie showing promotes the book," Thompson noted. "In reality, both movie and book are deliberate ministry to help restore marriages."
As a result of the movie and the book, thousands of e-mails and testimonials report relationships restored, marriages saved, love recaptured, divorces dissolved, and even renewal in non-romantic relationships such as parents and children, brothers and sisters.
An online community, meanwhile, has been growing at the Love Dare website, lovedare.bhpublishinggroup.com, which web visitors are automatically directed to when they type LoveDareJournal.net or ShareTheLoveDare.com. The site, which connects individuals who are going through the 40-day marriage strengthening process outlined in The Love Dare, has inspired more than 1,700 couples to begin sharing their experiences of walking through The Love Dare while encouraging others on the journey.
"Looking back, what a brilliant idea to put a life-changing book in the plot of a life-changing movie," Thompson commented.
According to Alex Kendrick, his church's movie-making ministry, Sherwood Pictures, is currently in the "season of prayer" where they're asking God what He would have them do next, as they did for the last three films – "Fireproof," "Facing the Giants," and "Flywheel."
"We have some ideas but we're not sure," he told Christian Web News at the recent convention of the National Religious Broadcasters. "And so we're in that season saying 'God, we're going to seek You until You let us know.""
According to Baptist Press, the target budget for the next film is $2.5 million – 5 times more than "Fireproof," 25 times more than "Facing the Giants," and 125 times more than "Flywheel."