'Fireproof' opens, offering hope for troubled marriages

Tags: 2008

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story about the movie "Fireproof" contains spoilers.

ALBANY, Ga. (BP)--It's not easy making a romantic movie while upholding the integrity of the lead actor and actress, but officials with Sherwood Pictures -- the makers of the new movie "Fireproof" -- believe they've pulled it off.

Yes, even in the kissing scene.

The movie has been screened to Christian pastors and leaders all summers, often to standing ovations, and finally opens this weekend. It's the latest film from the makers of the 2006 surprise hit "Facing the Giants." Officials hope Fireproof enjoys more success than its predecessor. While Facing the Giants opened in 400 theaters, Fireproof is opening in 800.

Fireproof ranks No. 1 among all films on the movie website Fandango.com for pre-sales -– two spots ahead of the sure-hit "High School Musical 3: Senior Year," which opens Oct. 24. The $500,000 budget for Fireproof was five times that of Giants but still pales in comparison to budgets for Hollywood blockbusters. This year's "The Dark Night" had a budget of $183 million. "Spider-Man 3" from 2007 came it at a whopping $258 million.

Fireproof tells the story of a firefighting captain whose marriage is on the rocks and heading for a divorce. But by the time he decides he wants to save it, he discovers it may be too late.

The movie includes a dramatic scene where the lead character, Capt. Caleb Holt (played by Kirk Cameron), embraces and kisses his wife, Catherine Holt (Catherine Bethea). In Hollywood, kissing scenes are no big deal, but for Sherwood Pictures -- which is owned by Sherwood Baptist Church -- the scene provided a challenge. After all, Cameron and Bethea aren't married in real life.

So what did the filmmakers do? A little movie magic, of course.

The kissing scene is silhouetted against a daytime sky. Cameron does indeed kiss someone, but not Bethea. Cameron actually is kissing his wife, Chelsea, who was flown in specifically for the scene. Thanks to some nifty editing, moviegoers won't suspect anything.

"I've got a personal conviction that I'm not going to kiss anyone else other than my wife," Cameron told Baptist Press. "That's my promise to my wife when I married her. While that may not be the conviction of your typical Hollywood actor, it is my conviction, and the Kendrick brothers (Alex and Stephen, who wrote the screenplay together) have a similar conviction in their own lives. When I talked to them, and we thought, 'How can we really make this movie come together in a romantic kind of way?' The idea came up, 'Hey, what if we have Chelsea and shoot this scene in the silhouette?' Chelsea was gracious enough to come out and to do that, and I was able to honor my marriage while we were putting this cherry on top -- so to speak -- on the movie."

While the movie promotes a biblical view of marriage, Cameron and others wanted to make sure biblical principles were upheld during the movie's filming. Cameron says his conviction about kissing scenes is one that has grown over the years.

"I wasn't really confronted with the issue 17 years ago, working on 'Growing Pains,' because she (Chelsea) was my girlfriend on the show," he said. "That was kind of convenient. But even in some of the 'Left Behind' movies and other things that we've done, I've had that conviction."

Sherwood Baptist Church leaders are encouraging people to see the movie this weekend if they want it to succeed.

"That opening weekend determines how it spreads," said Michael Catt, executive producer of the film and senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist. "With Facing the Giants ... we started in 400 theaters and ended up in over 1,000, and a lot of that was based on what happened the first weekend, because it let people know this is a legitimate film. The key to that was churches, the key to that was pastors standing up in their pulpits and saying, 'We gripe about Hollywood. Here's something positive. It's a film we can go to and support.'"


Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about "Fireproof," visit FireproofTheMovie.com. For resources, visit FireproofMyMarriage.com.

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