Fireproof passes $23M at box office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — "Fireproof" continued its impressive run in its fifth weekend in theaters, passing the $23 million mark and losing only 17.1 percent from the previous weekend, according to studio estimates.

Fireproof opened in 100 new theaters its third week, including those in Fairbanks, Alaska, and San Jose, Calif., and lesser-known towns like Forest Hills, N.Y., and Martin, Tenn. In its fourth week, the movie showed in 905 theaters, than during its opening weekend, movie officials say. Additional theaters were expected to be added.

The movie—which tells the story of how a firefighting captain, played by Kirk Cameron, works to save his failing marriage—passed the $20 million mark Oct. 20 in total gross and has finished in the Top 5 on a per-theater average in its first four weekends. It remains the top fan-rated film at Fandango.com, a ticket-buying Web site.

It was made by Sherwood Pictures, which made the 2006 surprise hit "Facing the Giants" and is owned by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

In its opening weekend, Fireproof pulled in an average of $7,764 in each of 839 theaters and placed fourth in gross revenue with $6.5 million. Though the makers of Fireproof are not in it for the money and funnel the proceeds back into charitable work, box office receipts are a measure of the film's popularity with the American public.

Since its opening, the film has garnered significant national media exposure, including articles by Time magazine and The New York Times as well as a spot on ABC's World News Tonight.

ABCNews.com, which ran a story Oct. 3 with the headline "'Fireproof' Shows Christian Movies Sell," noted the quandary Hollywood faces trying to figure out how a film that was made for $500,000, relied on word of mouth instead of traditional advertising and used a volunteer cast could possibly open at No. 4 in the country and take in more than $6 million in ticket sales during the first week.

"The film exceeded even the filmmakers' expectations," the ABC article said. "They were hoping to make $3 million or $4 million and crack the top 10 when the film opened … Instead, they topped the Coen Brothers' 'Burn After Reading,' with Brad Pitt and George Clooney, in its third week, and Spike Lee's 'Miracle at St. Anna,' which made only $3.5 million in its opening weekend."

Cameron told ABC he has received e-mails from couples who were on the verge of separation but then saw Fireproof and renewed their marriage vows. One man, Cameron said, stood up in the theater after the film and said, "I am Caleb Holt, and I need 10 men to pray for me and my marriage." About 20 men walked over, he said.

Kendrick, who made the film with his brother Stephen, told Time magazine they wanted to create a product that didn't go along with Hollywood's out-of-touch fictional reality.

"Hollywood is gifted at high production quality and acting," Kendrick said. "But their morals and life perspectives are so different from the rest of us. New York and California seem to have one type of culture and then there's the rest of America. We're trying to make movies that speak to what we believe the American family struggles with—communication, financing, intimacy."

Meanwhile, The Love Dare book—which plays a central role in the movie—hit No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list for paperback advice books Oct. 10. Written by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick— the brothers who also wrote the screenplay—the book is in its seventh printing by B&H Publishing Group, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. It takes the reader on a 40-day journey to strengthen his or her marriage.

"To see Fireproof is to want the book, The Love Dare," John Thompson, marketing vice president for B&H Publishing Group said. "At the same time, for readers, this powerful little book stands alone in opening new understanding—and new relationships."

For more information about "Fireproof," visit FireproofTheMovie.com. For resources, visit FireproofMyMarriage.com. A complete list of new theaters is available at Fireproofthemovie.blogspot.com.