This Weekend May Be Last for Many to See 'Fireproof' in Theaters

Faith-based flick "Fireproof" heads into its ninth weekend with hopes of continuing its steady pace toward becoming the fourth all-time highest grossing Christian film.

But that may be tough to do with the upcoming weekend possibly being the last to witness "Fireproof" in more than 800 theaters.

"The good news is that Fireproof will still be on more than 800 theaters this weekend — the ninth - straight time since the movie opened on September 26," the movie's promoters reported Tuesday in their blog. "The reality is, this will likely be the final weekend with this many theaters. There are just too many blockbusters on the release schedule for the coming weeks to keep this amazing run going."

While nearly all movies that debuted on Sept. 26 are making less than a quarter million dollars each weekend (with the exception of Eagle Eye, which drew $1.46 million last weekend), "Fireproof" has consistently been pulling in over $1 million each weekend and hanging among the box office top 15.

This week, the total earnings for "Fireproof" helped the film surpass the $30-million mark. And with about $7 million more, the church-produced film will eclipse "The Nativity Story" as the fourth highest grossing "Christian" film of all time, behind Hollywood blockbusters "The Passion of Christ" and the first two installments of the "Chronicles of Narnia" series, based on Christian apologist C.S. Lewis' famed books of the same name.

The feats so far have been especially impressive given that "Fireproof" has been showing in less than 1,000 theaters each weekend and was produced on a $500,000 budget. By comparison Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" was produced on a $30 million budget and the "Narnia" movies were produced on a $180 million and $200 million budget, respectively. "The Passion of Christ," of course, went on to gross over $370 million, the first "Narnia" over $290 million, and the second "Narnia" over $140 million.

While the top three movies "produced by Christians that promote or embody their religion," as Box Office Mojo labels them, are much too far to reach, the fourth spot is up for grabs, especially given that the last movie from the creators of "Fireproof," "Facing the Giants," hung around for 17 weeks, grossing over $10 million on a $100,000 budget.

"So ... if you are one of those people that have been meaning to see it, but haven't yet, this is your time," "Fireproof" promoters say. "Or, if you are one of the millions that have found this to be a movie that touches your heart and challenges you to love others the way God intends us to love them, then you may want to check it out one more time on the big screen."

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.

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 ministry's latest movie 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, has been on The New York Times Top 10 Paperback Advice Best Seller's List for seven weeks. This week it ranks No. 2 behind Twilight.

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.