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‘Woodlawn’ opens in top 10 at box office

NASHVILLE (BP) — The faith-based drama “Woodlawn,” promoted as a potential catalyst for revival and spiritual awakening, opened in the top 10 at theaters Oct. 16-18, Box Office Mojo reported.

Woodlawn opened in the eighth spot Oct. 16, earning $1.485 million in 1,553 theaters, and finished the weekend at number nine, earning a total of $4.1 million, Box Office Mojo said.

Based on the true story of a high school football team in the midst of racial integration 40 years ago in Birmingham, Ala., the film follows the journey of African American Tony Nathan as a star running back for the Woodlawn High School Colonels in 1973 after court-ordered desegregation. Amid racial hatred, cross burnings and riots, spiritual revival transforms the team so profoundly that it affects the team’s coach, school and community.

Jon and Andy Erwin, known for “October Baby” and “Mom’s Night Out,” wrote, directed and produced the film, along with producer Kevin Downes and executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.

“It’s a special film that’s really going to touch the lives of many people across the country and around the world,” Downes said. “I think it transcends different backgrounds in such a way that it can bring healing. People have separation and brokenness in their lives — and this film can really help people in ways that are unexpected.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd has promoted the film as a tool for revival.

“I want to encourage each pastor and Christian leader to rent theaters and fill them with people of all ages to watch this movie,” Floyd said before the film’s release. “Encourage them to bring friends who are regular church attenders and those who have never attended a church before. Once the movie concludes, offer an opportunity for people to follow Jesus Christ.”

Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Ark., promoted the film in the Oct. 15 LifeWay Films simulcast Unify, broadcast from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

“Tonight is more than just simply about a movie,” Floyd said at Unify. “Tonight is about a movement. A movement toward us seeing the next spiritual awakening in the United States.

“That movement began years ago in what was called the Jesus Movement, which literally became the Jesus Revolution,” he said. “We pray that tonight will become the catalyst over the next several weeks to the next great Jesus Revolution in America.”

Hosted by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Unify also featured pastors Greg Laurie, Jack Graham and Tony Evans, the filmmakers and movie cast.

Three books accompanied the movie’s release, namely “Woodlawn: Dare to Believe,” and “Touchdown Tony: Running With a Purpose,” both available from Howard Books, and the devotional “When God Shows Up,” available from Broadstreet Publishing.

Woodlawn was released seven weeks after the Kendrick Brothers’ “War Room,” which grossed $65.4 million through Oct. 18 on a budget of only $3 million, Box Office Mojo said. Featuring Bible teachers Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore in a story illustrating the power of a disciplined and focused prayer life, War Room continues in hundreds of theaters across the country, according the movie’s website.

“Captive,” the faith-based story of Atlanta hostage Ashley Smith who read from Rick Warren’s bestseller “A Purpose Driven Life” and convinced her captor to surrender, grossed $2.6 million in a three-week run which ended Oct. 8, according to Box Office Mojo figures.

Woodlawn was a distant fourth among new releases, trailing the secular movies “Goosebumps,” which earned $7.4 million; “Bridge of Spies,” $5.4 million, and “Crimson Peak,” $5.3 million, Box Office Mojo reported.