‘God’s not Dead 2’ and ‘Miracles from Heaven’ blessed with ticket sales

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Jennifer Garner, left, and Queen Latifah star in "Miracles from Heaven,"
 which did well at the box office in early April 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Jennifer Garner, left, and Queen Latifah star in "Miracles from Heaven,"
which did well at the box office in early April 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150(RNS) Evangelical Christian inspiration and apologetics are filling theater seats, with two films in the top five for box office last weekend.

“God’s Not Dead 2,” the sequel to a 2014 argument for Christian faith, came in fourth behind “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” ”Zootopia” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hosted a showing in Wisconsin where he lauded it in his remarks about supporting “religious liberty.”


RELATED STORY: Ted Cruz hosts ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ showing at Wisconsin campaign stop


Critics were less enthusiastic. Variety slammed it as superficial, leaden and graceless and “a torturous exercise in one-note proselytizing.” But even as the showbiz publication predicted the film would win few converts, it also acknowledged the might of the faith-based audience.

The opening earnings of “God’s Not Dead 2” were $8.1 million from April 1-3. That is less than the original earned at its debut, according to The Associated Press, but the first film went on to earn $60 million.

“Miracles from Heaven,” starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, came in fifth and added $7.6 million to its three-week run that now totals $46.8 million.

Jennifer Garner (L) and Queen Latifah star in "Miracles from Heaven," which did well at the box office in early April 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Jennifer Garner, left, and Queen Latifah star in “Miracles from Heaven,”
which did well at the box office in early April 2016.
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni


RELATED STORY: ‘Miracles From Heaven’ mom on faith, illness and Jennifer Garner


“People underestimate not just about how much the core faith-based community, but also the public at large, wants movies that can inspire and uplift them,” Devon Franklin, a producer on “Miracles from Heaven” and an ordained minister, told Variety.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, told USA Today the film’s success is a testament to a “loyal and passionate” faith-based audience: “Closing in on $50 million,” he said, “it’s a total moneymaking machine.”

(Cathy Lynn Grossman is senior national reporter for RNS)

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  • Jon

    Cathy, might I suggest that the numbers tell a different story? “God’s not dead 2” opening in 5th place with $8M is a flop. Simply compare openings of successful movies, at first place, which range from $40 to $200+M, achieved by dozens of movies in 2015. As a sequel, GND2 is likely to do even worse than GND1. Wanna bet?

    In fact, a simple look at the number shows that “Miracles from Heaven” is also far from successful. Even if it reaches $50 M, that would put it at 57th place yearly (sing 2015 movie data). So any of literally dozens of movies are more profitable for the theaters to show.

    “money making machine”? Come on. The data show that 29 movies made over $100M in 2015 – that’s more than 1 every other week.

    These data make me wonder why anyone would portray these numbers as good. Did they not bother to look at the data, or are they misportraying these for evangelical reasons? Data at boxofficemojo.com. So, Cathy, next time? THx…

  • Wesley

    Jon…what you should keep in mind is how much the movie is making at the box office in relation to its production budget. The budget for Miracles from Heaven was $13 million and its current box office is almost $47 million. The budget for God’s Not Dead 2 is not currently available, but the budget for the first movie was $2 million so assuming the budget is more for the sequel, it’s still going to do quite well for the producers.

  • Jon

    No, I shouldn’t. And neither should you. That’s because what’s important is what movies the theaters pick to play – and that is decided based on how much the movie will bring in *compared to other movies*.

    For instance, say I made a really stupid movie on a production budget of $1. And the ticket sales brought in $0.1M (= $100,000). Yay, I made 100,000 times what my production budget was! Success! ? No – that’s a flop. Because the theater could have instead chosen even a poor movie like “miracles from…” and still made 10s of millions more. Or a blockbuster pulling in $200M.

    If you were correct that it was sales/budget that mattered, then the movies would be flooded with cheap movies, and expensive movies would not be made – but they are made, and in fact they are the focus of the industry.

  • yoh

    Hollywood is always looking to flood the market with cheap films if it could. For every Star Wars, they want 20 Cloverfields or Nicholas Sparks films. Pretty much the entire horror genre survives this way. Big budgeted films there are the exception, not the rule. The problem being the costs of distribution make few studios willing to take up theater space unless they can assure themselves of a good theatrical run.

    The Christian film genre has reached the point where they can have theatrical showing production values but budgets low enough to turn a quick profit. Like every other form of exploitation film, you will keep seeing them as long as the budgets are low enough and the box office can justify them.

    We already saw several large budget Christian film flops: Left Behind (Nicholas Cage version) and the last Narnia film. It is doubtful you will see more like that.

  • yoh

    Budgets on sequels are typically less than originals. There are generally diminishing returns on a series as they continue. God is Not Dead2 had a budget of 5 million. It will probably only stay in theaters for 1-2 more weeks and will be seen as a modest success. The film has zero international audience and is unlikely to be broadcast on premium cable. It will clean up on the DVD market for churches and the thunder markets.

  • Judith

    You fail to factor in the fact that MFH had a very small budget in comparison to the Hollywood blockbusters.
    This true story of the Beam family was so well done and ‘realistic’ I actually cried through a lot of it…….characters were refreshingly authentic and believable……in fact, when this is out on DVD I plan to buy it for our home collection……to show our grandchildren.

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