ALBANY, Ga. (BP)–In Hollywood, $10 million is mere change. In Albany, Ga., it’s a sign of God’s blessing.
“Facing the Giants,” the inspirational movie made by the staff and members of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., on a shoestring budget, passed the $10 million gross mark the week before Christmas. Not bad for a movie that cost only $100,000 to make.
It is still showing in a handful of theaters nationwide and is set to be released on DVD Jan. 30. Churches, though, can go ahead and purchase the DVD, along with the required license, to show it to their congregation. More than 900 churches have done so thus far. (Information is available at www.facingthegiants.com.)
“For us to make a movie for $100,000 and then to see it make $10 million just in the box office has been overwhelming,” Jim McBride, the executive pastor of Sherwood Baptist who has a role in the movie, told Baptist Press. “… We just all came out and volunteered. You just can’t explain how that all turned out so well with a bunch of novices, other than God’s hand was on it.”
The movie follows a high school football coach battling job security, financial problems and infertility. Through it all, he, his wife and the team learn to honor God in all things. The movie is rated PG, although it has no objectionable content.
Alex Kendrick, an associate pastor at the 3,000-member church, played the lead character. He and his brother, Stephen — also a pastor at the church — wrote the script. The only person in the film with no relation either to the church or its Christian school is University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt, who plays himself.
“Over 500 members of our church were physically involved in the making of the movie — whether that be bringing food to the set as caterers or people holding lighting and cameras and everything else,” McBride said. “And there were thousands more praying for the movie.”
It wasn’t the church’s first movie. “Flywheel,” which had a $20,000 budget, was released several years ago on DVD. It had enough success that the church decided to take the next step. But the success of “Facing the Giants” has surprised even staff members.
“We were praying for the best, but we sort of feel like the little boy who gave his five loaves and two fish to Jesus and was amazed at what He did with it,” McBride said. “We made this movie for $100,000, and then Sony saw it and picked up and said, ‘We’ve got to get this out across the country.'”
Sony spent several million dollars advertising and marketing the movie. The church still hasn’t made a profit, McBride said, although it has recouped the $100,000 budgeted for the film. Sony, along with the theaters that carried the film, have received the bulk of the $10 million, he added.
Any profit for the church may go toward an 82-acre sports park the church started, McBride said. The park has Upward sports and other activities for the community.
McBride and others hope that churches across the nation will use the movie for outreach. Even though Sherwood Baptist’s e-mail address isn’t included on the Facing the Giants website, some 4,000 people nonetheless have e-mailed the church, testifying to the movie’s impact on them. More than 800 people have prayed to receive Christ after watching the film, McBride said.
“We’re sure there are more, but we just haven’t heard from them,” he said.
Churches that purchase the license to show the movie in a group setting will also receive promotional materials, including movie tickets, bulletin inserts and posters.
“This was a church making a movie for the church,” McBride said. ” … It gave churches across the country an opportunity for evangelism — to invite their friends to come to the movie theater with them, to not see a Bible story per se, but to come to the theater and see an everyday example of Christian life.”
The “Facing the Giants” DVD to be released Jan. 30 will include director’s commentary, behind-the-scenes shots, bloopers and deleted scenes.
The movie finished 12th among all movies on opening weekend, but an amazing fifth on an average-per-screen tally ($3,046) among the Top 20 movies, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. In its second weekend, “Facing the Giants” ended up 14th among all movies and was ninth on a per-screen average ($2,407) among Top 20 movies, according to the website.
Sherwood’s senior pastor, Michael Catt, has a church goal of “touching the world from Albany, Ga.,” McBride said, and the movie had a part in that.
“He has challenged us as a staff to reach the world from Albany, Ga., and that lined up with what Alex and Stephen had a passion for doing,” McBride said.
For information about the DVD to be released Jan. 30, visit www.facingthegiants.com. To purchase a license for a large group viewing, visit www.providentfilms.org