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'Fireproof' to debut on 800 screens

60 Georgia theaters among this weekend’s national release

 

Todd Stone/Sherwood Pictures

Sherwood church members Jason McLeod, foreground, and Eric Young, background, battle a house fire in a scene from the movie.

ALBANY — When “Fireproof” opens this weekend in 800 theaters nationwide, more people will hear the gospel outside the four walls of Sherwood Baptist Church in one night than they ever would at its location on Whispering Pines Road.

That’s been the plan all along as embodied by the Kendrick Brothers, who have been the visionaries behind the series of films produced by the South Georgia church.

Along with the support of pastor Michael Catt, the brothers have always wanted to find new ways of taking the gospel presentation outside the church and into the community.

Their third cinematic release shows they know what they are doing.

· Their first movie, “Flywheel,” was conceived in the spring of 2002 after the two brothers saw the results of a George Barna survey that reported movie and television shows are more influential in American culture than the church. That inspired them to get serious about their not-so-secret childhood love of all things cinema as a way of spreading the gospel.

· Their second movie, “Facing the Giants,” released in 2006, was filmed on a shoestrong budget of $100,000, directly impacted 3 million people in 56 countries, generated more than 10,000 emails, and resulted in more than 5,000 professions of faith. The football drama drew $10 million in box office receipts and remains a best-selling DVD.

Both movies have found their way into national movie rental chains and on major cable television networks. Fireproof has already received 150 pre-screenings nationwide and has received positive feedback from critics and Christian audiences.

 

Stories without preaching

Early reviews of Fireproof indicate it will quickly surpass their two earlier attempts as the sound, picture quality, and storyline comes together in a riveting, action-packed, heart-warming story of a marriage that is pulled back from the brink of extinction. And Fireproof has its first big-time star, Christian actor Kirk Cameron, cast in a lead role.

A trademark of the brothers’ films are that they tell a story without preaching – a serious drawback to earlier Christian films. And that distinction is what draws crowds to their screenings with each new release. As in previous movies, virtually all the actors were volunteers from the church or Albany community and all scenes were shot locally.

Stephen Kendrick, who with brother Alex co-wrote and produced the movie in addition to their full-time ministry responsibilities at the Albany church, is urging Georgia Baptists to purchase tickets in advance of seeing Fireproof this weekend if they are not already part of a large viewing group. Some churches have bought out entire theatres for the weekend and distributed tickets free, or at cost, in their communities.

 

Need a strong opening

Kendrick said some of those theatres may have only limited seating for walk-up customers. By going online to purchase tickets patrons will have assurance they will be part of the opening weekend audience and boost attendance numbers.

Joe Westbury/Index

Actor Kirk Cameron and fellow firefighters strain to lift a car off of railroad tracks before an oncoming freight train hits the vehicle and its trapped driver. The action-packed scene was shot in the small town of Shellman just outside of Albany.

“Unlike a concert, sporting event, or a play, going to the movies tends to be a spur-of-the-moment decision. The films that remain on the screen after their initial opening and are able to expand to other cities will be the ones that have extremely strong opening-weekend sales,” Kendrick said.

“With Fireproof opening in nearly 800 theaters there needs to be overwhelming support to get theater circuits to keep this film playing for more than one week.”

 

Restoration and dependance

Individuals wanting to see a trailer and desiring to see if a theater near them will show the movie can see the updated list by going to www.fireproofthemovie.com and click on the “Find a Theater” link. The current list of 60 theaters shows it will be playing from Albany to Woodstock on Friday opening night.

The Fireproof storyline focuses on a young couple, Caleb and Catherine Holt, whose seven-year-old marriage is on the rocks. Divorce is imminent when Caleb’s father, played by former Camilla and Americus pastor Harris Malcom, issues a “love dare” to his firefighter son as a last-ditch attempt to save the marriage. Malcom’s wife, Phyllis, plays the firefighter’s mother.

Kendrick said the movie focuses on helping restore struggling marriages and strengthening existing ones through a greater dependence on a walk with Christ.

Churches wanting to use the movie as an outreach ministry can receive tips by visiting FireproofMyMarriage.com.

The movie is not just a cinema event. “Fireproof: The Novel” and “The Love Dare” devotional book were released earlier this month as spin off products to help strengthen or rebuild struggling marriages. In January 2009 “The Love Dare Small Group Study” will be released to help launch church-based marriage enrichment programs in the upcoming Valentine’s Day season.

 

For more information, to register for updates, or read the blog, visit www.fireproofthemovie.com.

 


 

National rollout this weekend; movie will premier on Thursday, Sept. 25 at Hollywood’s ArcLight Theater near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

· Sixty Georgia theaters have booked the movie for its opening night on Friday, Sept. 26.

· The movie is being released through Provident and Sony Pictures.

· This is the first production by the Kendrick brothers to feature its first big-time star, Christian actor Kirk Cameron, cast in a lead role.

· It’s younger cinematic sibling, “Facing the Giants,” released in 2006, was filmed on a $100,000 budget. Fireproof cost $500,000 – a considerable increase – but still a tiny fraction of the multi-million production budgets of the larger studios.