"Machine Gun Preacher" hit the big screens Friday for the first time and made quite the impact.
The film that initially sparked controversy because of its poster depicting the former drug dealer turned Christian, Sam Childers, holding a machine gun in one hand and shielding a child with another, proved to hold its own in a limited, select theaters release this past weekend.
The movie opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles and brought in $44,000, according to an estimate by a Relativity Media distributor.
"Machine Gun Preacher" is based off of the real life story of Childers. Childers had a troubled past that was filled with sex, violence, drug addiction, and drug dealing but experienced a major life change when his wife Lynn became a Christian.
Becoming a Christian himself, Childers left his amoral life behind and became a preacher, preaching at the church that he built in Pennsylvania while managing a successful construction business.
A volunteer construction trip to Uganda that was only planned to last for a few weeks changed the course of his life when he saw people treated viscously by the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army. The rebel group burned down villages, cut people’s lips off, and recruited and trained children in continuing these violent acts.
As an eye witness of this, Childers was unable to return to his normal way of life. He established a ministry in Uganda and the southern Sudan, supporting about 170 children through an orphanage.
The title “Machine Gun Preacher” is not an empty one. Childers has received criticism for using violent tactics to confront violence.
The strong male image portrayed by actor Gerard Butler appealed more widely to a female audience and an older crowd with 82 percent of the weekend’s audience being 25 or older, according to a report by "The Los Angeles Times."