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There are two movies with predominantly Black casts currently winning at the box office. One, of course is Straight Outta Compton, which was #1 in theaters for a third straight week. The other was War Room, which outdid movies starring Zac Efron and Owen Wilson and made $11.4 million in its first week mostly due to strong advance sales. Like Straight Outta Compton, the movie dominated despite having no clearly recognizable box office stars.
“We were thinking we would do well just to be in the top five,” War Room’s director Alex Kendrick says. “Our last two films came out as the No. 4 movie, and so that would have been fine with us. When we had a shot at No. 3, we were ecstatic. And then when we ended up at No. 2, that was just like Christmas.”
War Room is the latest entry in a string of low-budget, faith-based hits from Kendrick and his brother Stephen, the team behind 2011’s Courageous, which is about police officers grappling with tragedy and fatherhood, and 2008’s Fireproof, which starred Kirk Cameron as a firefighter with a troubled marriage.War Room stars Priscilla Shirer and T.C. Stallings as a husband and wife who turn to strategic prayer to help their volatile relationship.
Both Courageous and Fireproof went on to gross more than $33 million domestically, but War Room is the first Kendrick brothers film to open in the double digits.
“We feel like we know our audience pretty well, and we know people of faith are yearning for movies that inspire and call them to a deeper walk in their faith,” Kendrick says. “This movie calls people to make prayer a priority, and we believe that it’s something our culture and our nation really needs — to turn back to God and to seek him in prayer. I think a lot of people are identifying with that, and it’s resonating with our audience.”
Both ordained ministers, the Kendrick brothers shot the movie in Charlotte, North Carolina. EW.com says that their credibility with the faith-based community and a network of churches and other spiritual groups helps the word of mouth marketing.
Room is in theaters now.