NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) – For much of Thursday, the top-selling movie on a leading box office website was The Insanity of God – a Christian movie that will be in theaters for only one night next week and which has been boosted by churches buying out entire theaters.
The movie/documentary, which tells the incredible true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken, was No. 1 in ticket sales Thursday morning and afternoon at MovieTickets.com, outpacing films such as Don't Breathe – a new release – and holdovers Suicide Squad, Sausage Party and Bad Moms. MovieTickets.com updates its sales chart throughout the day.
The website is a joint venture between several theater chains. (By early evening, Insanity had fallen to No. 2)
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The Insanity of God, distributed by LifeWay Films, will be in theaters Tuesday, Aug. 30.
"A lot of theaters are already sold out," Trey Reynolds of LifeWay Films told the Christian Examiner.
The pace of ticket sales is extraordinary, for several reasons.
First, it is rare for a faith-based film to rank that high in sales. Ben-Hur, which had crossover appear, didn't even appear in MovieTickets.com's Top 5 on opening weekend.
Second, Insanity is in theaters for only one night while the other films are in theaters for multiple nights – with multiple showings throughout the day.
Third, it is showing only in about 530 theaters, compared to the other movies that are showing in 2,000-plus theaters. Fourth, this is LifeWay's first-ever theatrical release.
Insanity was produced by Nik Ripken Ministries and the International Mission Board. LifeWay is the distributor.
When the film was screened at the Southern Baptist Convention this summer, the audience stood and applauded at the end, Reynolds said.
"For believers, this a heavy movie to watch," Reynolds said, noting it deals with persecution. "These are real stories, and when Christians take the time to watch this film and hear the stories, they can't help but be changed.
"I look at what these other men and women have been through, and they did not deny Christ even when it cost them their lives. But will I walk across the street and speak to my neighbor about Christ? Will I have a conversation with my family member? That's the question we hope people walk away with: Is Jesus really worth it for me to follow Him with my life, in whatever circumstances?"