The Christian drama "War Room," by filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, earned $11 million in its box-office debut over the weekend despite playing in only 1,135 theaters. It was placed No. 2 behind "Straight Outta Compton," which earned $13.2 million, but after playing in 3,142 locations.
The faith-based film on the power of prayer, which hit theaters Friday, marks the highest debut for the Kendrick brothers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The N.W.A saga "Straight Outta Compton" remained at the No. 1 spot for the third consecutive weekend. However, "War Room" averaged $9,360 in 1,135 theaters, as compared to $4,125 in 3,142 theaters for "Straight Outta Compton," according to The Warp.
"War Room," which is rated PG and stars T.C. Stallings, Priscilla Shirer and Karen Abercrombie, is a compelling faith drama that explores the power that prayer can have on marriages, parenting, careers, friendships and every other area of life both physically and spiritually.
It's the Georgia-based duo's first film that features African-Americans in the leading roles.
"When we started writing out the plot, it occurred to us that this movie would be more powerful or passionate as told from an African-American perspective," the Reporter quoted Alex Kendrick as saying. "The African-American church is more visceral, they are more expressive and there is a powerful passion to their prayers."
The Kendricks have made four other films, including "Courageous," "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants." The Kendricks have released all their projects through Sony's faith-based TriStar/Affirm label, which "has been proven effective over several films now," according to Rich Peluso of Sony Pictures' Affirm Films.
"They are intimately connected to faith leaders across the country and work hard to integrate themes within their movies that resound with these leaders and provide resources that allow the use of the movie as both entertainment and a useful tool to change lives and hearts," Peluso was quoted as saying.
On Friday, when "Compton" and "War Room" were tied with $3.8 million, Stephen Kendrick said, "We are ecstatic!"
"God totally gets the credit for what's happening," he said in a statement. "Thousands of people have been praying for this movie. With all of our inadequacy, God keeps taking what is said to be impossible and makes it undeniable. We are so grateful."
Michael Foust, who has covered the Christian film industry for a decade and has been a full-time editor and writer for 20 years, wrote about the film in an op-ed for The Christian Post. "It has a great story, something that is lacking in so many Hollywood films today that give us multi-million-dollar special effects with 10 cent plots. It succeeds because, unlike those same Hollywood films, it does more than just entertain us," he wrote.
He added: "[The Kendricks] know how to make a great movie because they know that story is king. They also get it because they're always working to improve their craft. They're well aware of the 'cheesy' label many moviegoers have placed on Christian films, and they understand that even before their next movie hits theaters, a large segment of the Hollywood population already has written it off."
The Kendricks have come up with a new prayer strengthening book, The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies, inspired by "War Room."
They use biblical scripture as the foundation in their book to guide readers on how to unlock the secrets to building a powerful prayer life that can effectively impact not only one's family, but also one's entire community and nation.
Co-author Alex Kendrick told The Christian Post earlier this month: "Our culture today reveals that we are not heading toward being in agreement with the Bible. There has never been a better time to pray."
He added, "There has been a famine of prayer in this land and we hope that this book ignites the fire of faith for people to pray more. We want to remind people to pray through the scriptures. Pray over our leaders, governments, culture and people."