NASHVILLE (BP) — The sequel “God’s Not Dead 2” opened much weaker than its 2014 predecessor, trailing the top grossing “God’s Not Dead” in per screen earnings by 72 percent, according to Box Office Mojo statistics.
With total earnings of $8.1 million for the April 1-3 weekend, God’s Not Dead 2 averaged $3,350 per screen in 2,419 theaters. Its predecessor averaged $11,817 per screen in 780 theaters, earning $9.2 million when it opened in March, 2014. “God’s Not Dead” was the highest-grossing independent faith film of 2014 at $60.8 million.
The sequel’s total earnings ranked first among new releases. Its nearest competitor “Meet the Blacks,” a comedy that grossed $4 million, still outperformed God’s Not Dead 2 in per screen average earnings. Shown on only half as many screens as the Christian sequel, Meet the Blacks’ average screen take of $4,026 outpaced God’s Not Dead 2 by $700.
Overall, God’s Not Dead 2 placed fourth at the box office, trailing top performer “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” which brought in $52.4 million.
The sequel appeared to be a crowd pleaser, rating an A Cinemascore and 3.1 out of 5 on Rotten Tomatoes. The PG movie introduces a new storyline, telling the story of a Christian teacher, portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart, who faces termination when she mentions Jesus in response to a student’s question in a public classroom. The clash leads to a civil liberties court battle, invoking the contemporary battle of the separation of church and state. The first movie focused on a college student who faced a teacher who was an atheist.
“Cases like these — where the religious freedoms of everyday men and women are being restricted by courts and government agencies — are sadly quite common today,” producer Michael Scott, founding partner of Pure Flix Entertainment, said in a press release.
The sequel’s April 1 release date, National Atheist’s Day, was intended to spark an informed national dialogue on religious freedom of expression, especially in the public square.
“Our goal has always been and remains making movies that entertain and educate an army of people who can talk about their faith intelligently, and really take that to the world,” Scott said. “Our hope is that we can start a conversation in the country with this movie about how critical the right to believe, and to talk about that belief in public, is to our nation.”
In its closing credits, Pure Flix points to 25 true court cases that inspired the film’s storyline. Among these cases, a University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor was denied promotion because of his conservative Christian writings; a San Jose City College professor was fired for offending a student by answering a question about heredity and homosexual behavior; and Ohio State University professors complained after the school librarian recommended four conservative books for the freshmen reading list.
In all cases, the defendants were successfully represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Pure Flix said.
Among the film’s stars are the late Sen. Fred Thompson, whose small role in the movie was filmed before his November 2015 death, Pat Boone, Sadie Robertson, Mike Huckabee and the Newsboys. Others are Jesse Metcalfe, Hayley Orrantia, David A.R. White, and Robin Givens.