War Room, the small indie movie that could, certianly has God’s favor. The Sony’s picture release edged out “Straight Outta Compton” over the Labor Day weekend.
“War Room” stars Priscilla Shirer, T.C. Stallings and Karen Abercrombie and was directed by Alex Kendrick. It carries a low-budget price tag of $3.5 million and is the best performer in the genre since Sony’s “Heaven Is for Real” took in $91 million in the U.S. last year.
“It’s clearly a movie that’s resonating with underserved audiences that are usually left out of the conversation — it was really perfect timing by Sony,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak.
“War Room,” the story of a disintegrating marriage rescued by intense prayer, was produced for a slender $3 million and distributed by Sony’s Affirm division. It is on pace to be among the Kendrick brothers’ biggest hits, rivaling the $34.5 million brought in by “Courageous” and the $33.5 million generated from “Fireproof.” It also continues Sony’s success with the genre — the studio scored with “Soul Surfer” and “Heaven is for Real,” as well as fielded the Kendricks’ films.
Credit for “War Room’s” ticket sales surge goes to its cast of African-Americans. That allowed the film to draw from pools of black and white moviegoers, an essential ingredient in its success given that polling shows that African-Americans are more religious than the U.S. population as a whole. Nearly 90% of African-Americans describe themselves as belonging to a religious group, with six out of ten coming from historically black protestant churches and 15% hailing from evangelical churches, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. For “War Room,” that translated to a racially diverse opening weekend crowd that was 36% African-American and 42% Caucasian, according to exit data.