"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.”
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.
“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)