'Fireproof' Passes $20 Million Mark; Eclipses Budget 40-Fold

Pro-marriage movie "Fireproof" has grossed over $20 million in less than four weeks, doubling the mark the filmmakers had hit with their last flick and eclipsing their budget 40-fold.

Though the movie's $2.58 million last weekend was not enough to beat the $2.66 million grossed by "Nights of Rodanthe" for the last spot on the Weekend Box Office Top 10, it was enough to pull the faith-based film past the $20 million mark and land it in the No. 11 spot despite showing in less than half the number of theaters that featured "Nights of Rodanthe" and three times less than No. 12 "The Express."

"We are thrilled with Fireproof's astonishing reception and grateful that audiences all over America are raving about this entertaining and inspirational film," said Meyer Gottlieb, president of "Fireproof" distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, in a released statement.

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Bob Rubin, executive vice president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, one of the acquisition partners for the film, meanwhile said its production company, Affirm Films, "is delighted to have once again partnered with Sherwood Pictures, Provident Films, and Samuel Goldwyn Films in achieving another outstanding box office success in Fireproof."

"The performance of this film obviously reflects the need for this kind of inspiring entertainment among a large audience and Affirm is committed to continuing to make such content available to this community in the future," he added.

With a budget five times larger than Sherwood Pictures' last movie, "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof" debuted over the Sept. 26-28 weekend at No. 4 with $6.5 million in ticket sales, marking the year's second highest grossing opening weekend return of any film released on 1,000 screens or less.

The movie, directed and produced by the Kendrick brothers of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., tells the inspiring story of a fireman and his struggle to save his faltering marriage from ending with his newfound faith and with the help of the "Love Dare," a 40-day spiritual guide that utilizes Scripture to reveal what true love is.

Since the film's release, director Alex Kendrick says calls, letters and emails have been pouring into Sherwood Pictures, the movie-making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church.

"[They] tell us how Fireproof has inspired them to pursue covenant in their own marriages," said Kendrick, who launched Sherwood Pictures after a 2002 Barna Group survey revealed how movies have become one of the leading influencers in American society while churches have lost much of their influence.

"We know we have a lot of growing to do as filmmakers, but we will always look for the 'God' idea that inspires and motivates people," Kendrick stated.

Sherwood Pictures' last film, "Facing the Giants" had run for 17 weeks in 441 theaters across the nation and earned $10.2 million. The low-budget movie, which centers on the life of a football coach who has never had a winning season in six years, was recognized as one of the most inspirational movies of 2006, according to Sports Illustrated magazine. Furthermore, churches picked up on the movie to use for instruction and discipleship within their ministries.

The ministry's latest movie has not only made the Weekend Box Office Top 10 for three consecutive weeks, but it has also spawned a best-selling book that started as a plot device in the film until audiences repeatedly requested copies for themselves. "The Love Dare," written by the Kendrick brothers, is currently No. 1 on The New York Times Paperback Advice Best Seller's List for the second week in a row. It was also No. 7 on Thursday afternoon and is currently in its seventh printing.

Both the film and book have drawn the support of churchgoers and conservative moviegoers as well as several national groups, including Focus on the Family, Outreach, FamilyLife, The Marriage CoMission, America's Family Coaches, AMFM, Marriage Alive Communications, and MarriageToday. Influential figures such as marriage expert Gary Smalley and Bubba Cathy of Chick-fil-A have also worked to spread word of the movie.

"Fireproof's inspiring love story has captured the heart of America," commented Terry A. Hemmings, president and CEO of Provident Music Group, in a statement. "People leave theaters passionate about sharing the hope and inspiration of Fireproof with family, friends, and everyone they know!"

According to an announcement made by Samuel Goldwyn Tuesday, the distribution company plans to expand the release of the film over the upcoming weeks to more than 1,000 screens.

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