The official movie poster for "War Room." Photo courtesy of War Room

'War Room' trounces 'Compton' for No. 1 at box office

The official movie poster for "War Room." Photo courtesy of War Room

The official movie poster for "War Room." Photo courtesy of War Room

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

With "War Room" at No. 1, the summer box office is ending on a blessed note.

The Christian drama topped the four-day Labor Day weekend with $12.6 million in just over 1,500 theaters, according to box-office tracking firm Rentrak. Made on a budget of just $3.5 million, the PG-rated film has earned $27.9 million in just two weekends of release.

War Room, about a crumbling marriage redeemed by prayer, is the highest-grossing faith-based film since "When the Game Stands Tall" opened to $8.4 million last August (netting $30.1 million total). Although last year had a number of hits with Christian themes — including "Son of God" ($59.7 million), "God's Not Dead" ($60.8 million) and "Heaven Is for Real" ($91.4 million) -- there have been fewer faith-based offerings this year, which may have contributed to War Room's success, according to Rentrak senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

"It's weird, because last year was called the 'year of the Bible' at the box office. All those did well and that was a really underserved audience this year," Dergarabedian says. "There is a huge market for faith-based movies and Sony took perfect advantage of the date, so they didn't get lost in the summer shuffle. If this came out a week or two within "Jurassic World," it might be a different story."

Karen Abercrombie, left, and Priscilla Shirer in “War Room.” Photo by David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films

Karen Abercrombie, left, and Priscilla Shirer in “War Room.” Photo by David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

War Room is the latest smash for director Alex Kendrick, whose religious movies "Courageous" in 2011 and "Fireproof"  in 2008 both produced healthy returns ($34.5 million and $33.5 million, respectively). War Room's box-office might is made all the impressive by the fact that it includes no stars and received a weak critical reception (just 36 percent positive reviews on aggregate site, compared to a striking 90 percent approval rating from audiences).

Robert Redford vehicle "A Walk In the Woods" got off on the right foot with $10.5 million and third place ($12.5 million since opening Wednesday). Co-starring Emma Thompson, Nick Nolte and Kristen Schaal, the hiking comedy brought in a mostly older audience, with 91 percent of moviegoers over the age of 25.

Meanwhile, "The Transporter Refueled" sputtered in its debut, revving up a disappointing $9 million for fifth place. A reboot of the Jason Statham franchise, with newcomer Ed Skrein in the driver's seat, the $22 million action movie was unable to speed past lousy reviews (17 percent positive rating from critics and 35 percent approval from audiences, according to Rotten Tomatoes).

Both Woods and Transporter are "modestly budgeted films that could do very well on on-demand," Dergarabedian says. "These are titles that were never destined to set the world on fire."

Overall, box office was down 17 percent from Labor Day weekend last year, when "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "If I Stay" bested the competition. Still, 2015 winded up with the second-best summer box office ever, pulling in $4.48 billion worldwide.

(Patrick Ryan writes for USA Today.)


  1. Sounds like this film is about waging spiritual war against the athiests and homosexuals. Must be a good flick! I would go see it if I wasn’t housebound due to social anxiety caused by rampent liberalism.

  2. And once again, a reminder:

    Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

  3. Um, math much?

    A quick look at the numbers (you can see them yourself at box office mojo) shows that War Room is an epic flop. A 12.6 million opening is abysmal. Compare openings of other movies, including pretty bad ones: Jackass 3D opened with 50 million – yep, Jackass 3D is 4X better than War Flop. Others at 50 million included King Kong, 8 mile, wanted, the Village, etc. Never heard of them? me neither, because a 50 million opening isn’t very good.

    What is a good opening? Over 100 million. Some at 100 million include: Spider man, Minions, Furious 7, etc. A really good opening is over 200 million, such as Avengers. Yep, War Flop opened at just 6% of Avengers.

    Of course anything could beat “straight outta compton” after 3 weeks. FYI, that movie opened with 60 million – more than 4 times that of War Flop, and has already made 150 million – far more than War Flop will ever get close to.

    A simple look at the data shows that most other Christian films were…

  4. Films released between August and October are usually the dregs of the distributors. Films not likely to garner much of an audience at a time when viewing drops off precipitously at the end of summer. Too late for summer rush, too early for winter prestige pics. The forlorn hope of release times. The studio dumped it.

    Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was probably the most successful film released during this time of year. A surprise megahit that was also a critical darling at the time. But Eastwood has a built in audience developed over decades and seldom made a stinker.

  5. Why bother, Bernardo. If there is no God, why should I care about anyone but myself. Squeeze every bit of pleasure out of your brief and meaningless life. But if God is real, and He listens when we pray, and Jesus’ words are true, then life has meaning.

  6. It’s about return on investment. Those blockbusters don’t even break even at $100 million. War Room cost very little to produce. I’m sure you can do the math.

  7. I do think “trounces the competition” is a bit of an overstatement.

  8. Yes, ROI is important, but the whole picture is more complicated. For instance, imagine that a movie cost 10 cents to make, and pulled in $10,000. The ROI is incredible, but the movie theater lost their shirt because they could have had a hit movie in there, and instead had empty theaters. Another big section of the $$ is the merchandising. Movies like Star Wars or Avengers make huge amounts of money in toys, costumes, etc – while that’s pretty much 0 for movies like War, Fireproof, etc.

    That’s why ROI doesn’t save a movie like this (The opportunity cost to the theaters is too high), and why it’s run during the dregs time (as Larry mentioned). This applies to the Bible movies, and the other Christian movies too – they all did very poorly.

    Yes, it barely eeked out a win over Compton (9.4 to 8.8) – that’s hardly “trounced”.

  9. Perhaps the fact that it was the only really digestible Christian film this summer prompted the pent-up desires of Christian-minded filmgoers to trudge out on Labor Day weekend. Because it certainly wasn’t a boffo opening.

  10. A little perspective.

    The Blair Witch Project’s production costs were 60K, made $140 million in its domestic release, $250 Mil worldwide. $30 Million in its opening weekend in 1999.

    Adjusting for inflation and rising ticket costs in 1999 it would be about double.

  11. Because one is not usually a sociopath and such activities are harmful to others. Being a sane human being means having some empathy and connection to the rest of humanity. Something you seem to lack as evidenced by your question.

    What you are saying is that if God is not looking over your shoulder, you would run amok. People should be afraid of you Mark. You obviously don’t have morals to speak of. If you weren’t kept in check by religious belief, you would harm anyone you could for personal gratification.

    Of course many religious people use their faith to excuse immoral acts. As long as they can claim God says so, they will harm anyone who gets in their way. So even that check on their behavior is sorely lacking. They have found loopholes around the alleged religious prohibitions on harming others.

  12. i think Mark’s point is that if the universe is just random with no Creator, then it really makes no logical sense to do other that what advances me. If helping others has benefit for me, then I’ll do it. If not, forget it. In the end, we’re all back to dust and anything we do is ultimately meaningless.

  13. Except the assumption of things being random without god is also without merit. Natural processes create and destroy with no sense of an intelligent guiding hand, but are not random either. So you start on an inherently false premise. It makes the argument nothing but a strawman. Nothing in relation to actual opposing points of view.

    The idea that moral thinking comes from religion is not only demonstratively false, but based on a very poor perception of how moral thinking is done.

    Helping others usually does confer benefit inherently. It builds up goodwill and trust with those you help and others who see your works. It encourages reciprocity from others.

    Selfish, sociopathic actions usually result in short term gain but long term loss. Lack of trust, animosity from others, encouraging people to do harm to you.

    The childish system of divine rewards and penalty are never necessary for such things. In fact it undermines moral thinking by turning into self-interest.

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