LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – Thousands of teens nationwide have accepted Christ after watching "Woodlawn," the football-themed faith-based film that is heading into its second weekend in theaters, officials with the film say.
On its first weekend in Los Angeles, more than 900 teens and students gave their lives to Christ, said Kevin Downes, the movie's producer.
"There are kids coming to Christ all over the place," Downes told the Christian Examiner. "In Los Angeles, we've had the Fellowship of Christian Athletes along with a lot of the rest of the area really step up, being the hands and feet of the body of Christ. It's been really cool to see."
But even before the movie opened, the movie was having an impact. Director Jon Erwin said that during a screening at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, hundreds of teens came forward to take a stand for Christ. A video of that event was posted on YouTube.
"To see kids respond to it the way they are has been unbelievable," Erwin told the Christian Examiner. "We hope that continues."
But those aren't the only stories. For example, 125 athletes accepted Christ on the campus of West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas, in early October during a screening.
"It was like the Holy Spirit just blew a huge breath right at me and blew me away," FCA representative and athletic chaplain Pat Ford told the Woodlawn movie blog. About 250 students were in attendance. "Over half of our group immediately stood up [and accepted a call to stand for Christ]. To God be the glory."
Nationwide, churches and Christians groups such as FCAs have bought theater tickets in bulk, allowing athletes and teens to watch the movie for free.
The movie was well received by moviegoers, earning a rare A+ CinemaScore in exit polling, and has also achieved high praise from mainstream critics – a rarity for a faith-based film. At the aggregate website RottenTomatoes.com, 89 percent of critics gave it a positive review. That includes critics from Variety, The Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
"The critics are respecting the quality of the filmmaking, and we're just being unashamed with the Gospel," Downes said. "We definitely stepped up the production budget, and it shows with the movie, but we're not watering down the storyline whatsoever."