'Soul Surfer' rides wave of opening success


LOS ANGELES —"Soul Surfer," the inspiring true story of teenager Bethany Hamilton who lost an arm in a shark attack and returned through courage and faith to the top levels of competitive surfing, scored big in opening weekend box offices and drew a rare A-plus in CinemaScore exit polls.

According to box office numbers, the movie collected $10.6 million for its initial weekend, making it the No. 4 film in the nation. It retained the same ranking the second week, generating nearly $20 million in total ticket sales in its first 10 days. Another strong indicator was its online presence on opening day when the movie began "trending" on Twitter, meaning it was among the top 10 tweeted items, worldwide.

 "From the beginning, this was God's film, and we're delighted with it," Cheri Hamilton, Bethany's mother, said on behalf of the Hamilton family.  "As the story goes out, we're trusting God to bless other families through the incredible way he's taken care of us."

"Audience support is phenomenal," Rich Peluso, vice president of Affirm Films, said. "Ticket sales exceed expectations and 96 percent of audiences rate it 'excellent' or 'very good.' That's a whole lot of families and teens having a great time at the movies."

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