In the movie business, Monday is the day to ponder the lessons learned from the past weekend’s gross receipts. So, dear culture makers, let us ponder this: Albany, Georgia’s Sherwood Baptist Church’s film Fireproof has grossed $23.6 million in its first month of release—on just 900 screens. Its production budget was $500,000. The critical reception, unlike the popular reception, has been, shall we say, tepid.
Compare that with a movie made with a cast of extraordinary British actors, directed by the widely respected Michael Apted, about one of the great heroes of Christian cultural transformation: Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and the end of the British slave trade. Backed by one of the deepest pockets in Christendom, with a production budget of $29 million (and, full disclosure, benefiting from the excellent marketing efforts of many people I consider friends and heroes), and quite well received by critics in spite of its Christian bona fides, it grossed $22.3 million domestically in its entire run (on over 1100 screens at widest release).
As William Goldman said, nobody knows anything. Let the reader understand.