Letters To God: A Born-Again Box-Office Hit?
You heard it here first: the sleeper hit of the summer might not be Letters To Juliet but the altogether more powerfully titled Letters To God. Here's what you need to know: it's a Christian indie, it's going to be in 750 theaters on April 9, and there's already a grass-roots, church-based campaign to get the word out. Oh, and it's being associated with two faith-based flicks that've already demonstrated the power of the Christian dollar.
Here's how Possibility Pictures describe their movie on the official site.
Tyler Doherty (TANNER MAGUIRE) is an extraordinary eight-year-old boy. Surrounded by a loving family and community, and armed with the courage of his faith, he faces his daily battle against cancer with bravery and grace. To Tyler, God is a friend, a teacher and the ultimate pen pal--Tyler's prayers take the form of letters, which he composes and mails on a daily basis.
The letters find their way into the hands of Brady McDaniels (JEFFREY S.S. JOHNSON), a beleaguered postman standing at a crossroads in his life...
Now take a look at the trailer.
Okay, so it's not just me, but Jeffrey S.S. Johnson really does look like Greg Kinnear in 1996's mailman-takes-correspondence-from-the-Creator-flick Dear God, right? But apart from that, Letters To God looks and sounds like your typically mushy Hollywood melodrama, complete with lost-guy redemption through romance with single mum and cancer kid getting his soccer on before living/dying.
That bit at the end? About "From one of the producers of Fireproof and Facing The Giants"? Well, that'd be Letters To God's director, David Nixon. He was assistant director and co-producer on 2008's Fireproof, starring devout evangelical Kirk Cameron, which cost $500,000, went out on 839 screens, took $6.8m on its first weekend and ultimately grossed $33.5m. Facing The Giants, released in 2006, did $1.3m first weekend on 441 screens and ended up with $10.2m. But it did it on an estimated budget of $10,000, having shot on HD with a volunteer cast and crew (including Nixon as co-producer and assistant director) from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.
Fireproof had a budget-to-to-box-office ratio of 1:67. Giants was 1:1000. So, with its $3.5m budget and vastly superior production values, where will Letters To God wind up?
And how much difference will the acceleration of Facebook and Twitter make to the Christian word-of-mouth campaign? Letters To Juliet, with all its studio muscle, has 23,900 fans and no Twitter page. Letters to God is up to 30,100 fans and has 1400 Twitter followers.