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Fireproof takes top Indie film honor of 2008


ALBANY — Fireproof, the third big-screen production of Sherwood Baptist Church, continues to gather national recognition five months after its late September rollout in Hollywood.

In early January the film was ranked as the top grossing Indie film of 2008 with $33,063,487 in box office receipts, followed by Woody Allen’s “Vickie Cristina Barcelona” with $22,749,000 and “Slumdog Millionaire” with $19,661,000. Popular hits like “Slumdog” were released late in the year and may eventually have greater receipts but its 2008 release places it in that year’s debut of films.

Fireproof even placed above the sixth place “Religulous” with $13,011,160, which attacked faith groups in a documentary format. The ranking was released by the secular site which tracks independent films.

“We didn’t even know we were in the running for top grossing film of 2008 for this category,” Fireproof producer Stephen Kendrick told The Index. “We knew it was doing well in the Christian realm but there are hundreds of films released each year in the independent category and we never gave it a thought.

“For it to come out on top of all Christian and non-Christian movies for 2008 is really exciting.”

Indie films are those produced outside the deep pockets of the major Hollywood production studies such as Fox, MGM, and Universal. Sony is the distributor of Fireproof but Sherwood Pictures is the production company which funded the venture. Kendrick’s brother, Alex, served as writer/director.

“The stories we are hearing about changed lives are incredible,” Kendrick added. “We know of one couple who had been divorced for seven years and were living 700 miles apart who went to see the movie together and were eventually reconciled and are getting remarried.”

Two weeks ago Fireproof was named Best Feature Film and runner-up for Best of Festival at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. More than 50 films competed in the annual competition.

The movie was released in the DVD format on Jan. 27 and, by the end of the week, had already broken the previous DVD sales record set in 2004 with the release of “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie.” With that achievement Sherwood Pictures holds three of the top five spots on the Christian DVD chart. “Facing the Giants” is number 1 and “Flywheel” is number 5.


Feed the need

Since its 2008 release Fireproof has carved a niche as one of the top highest-grossing Christian films of all time – along with “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Amazing Grace” – since “The Passion of Christ.”

“These record-setting sales at Christian retail stores, after a highly successful theatrical run, confirms that there is a large audience hungry for content that encourages in these difficult times and feeds the need for products that reflect their faith and lifestyle,” Terry A. Hemmings, president and CEO of Provident Music Group, said.


Unprecedented numbers

“We’re thankful for our partnership with Sherwood Pictures and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It took a tremendous effort from everyone involved to achieve these unprecedented numbers.”

Bob Rubin, executive vice president for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which distributed the DVD at mass-market retail, said, “We are thrilled with the response both at Christian retail and mass-market retailers.

“This strong sales performance is especially impressive in light of today’s economic climate and clearly indicates a broad market for faith-based entertainment. We are delighted that Fireproof resonates so well with its audience.”