NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The church-made film "Courageous" is No. 1 in ticket sales among all movies according to a leading ticketing website -- a significant feat considering it is an independent movie that will open in far fewer theaters than most big-time movies.
It opens Friday.
The ticketing website, Fandango.com, puts Courageous No. 1 in its "Fandango 5" list of the week's hottest tickets, besting No. 2 "The Lion King 3D," third-place "Moneyball," fourth-place "Dolphin Tale 3D" and fifth-place "Drive."
Made by the same church that filmed the 2008 hit "Fireproof" -- the top independent film that year -- Courageous will open in 1,126 theaters in the United States. By comparison, The Lion King 3D opened in 2,300 theaters and Dolphin Tale 3D opened in 3,500.
As of Thursday, Courageous had reached $2 million in pre-sales, officials close to the film said. Also, Kerusso, which makes Christian apparel, reports it has sold five times more Courageous T-shirts than it sold Fireproof T-shirts.
Courageous tells the story of five men -- four of them police officers -- striving to become better fathers. Its production budget of $1 million was twice that of Fireproof's $500,000.
Despite the data, Courageous almost certainly won't finish No. 1 at the box office over the weekend. For starters, it is not opening in enough theaters. Its pre-release sales have been boosted by churches across the country buying out entire showings for the film and using it as a ministry tool, particularly to men. They then resell the tickets to members. One church, Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., said Wednesday it had sold out of tickets for all four showtimes it had purchased.
Most reviewers who have seen Courageous are calling it the best film yet from Sherwood Baptist Church, which made Fireproof and Facing the Giants. The church is located in Albany, Ga. --30-- Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.