Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fireproof movie Opens at #4 nationwide

Samuel Goldwyn Films' FIREPROOF, starring Kirk Cameron, far surpassed industry expectations to place #4 at the box office for the weekend. Produced by Sherwood Pictures in Albany GA, FIREPROOF is the company's third film following FACING THE GIANTS – also released by Goldwyn, which went on to gross more than $10 million.

With an all-volunteer, 1,200-person cast and crew, FIREPROOF opened on 839 screens, grossing $6,804,764 with a per-screen average of $8,111. It was the highest opening weekend box office* of the year for films released on 1,000 screens or fewer.

Directed by Sherwood's Alex Kendrick and co-written with his brother, producer Stephen Kendrick, FIREPROOF stars Cameron and newcomer Erin Bethea in a story about a firefighter who must learn how to rescue his own marriage.

On both FACING THE GIANTS and FIREPROOF, Goldwyn, Provident Films, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Affirm Films unit united to devise and execute a marketing strategy blending traditional theatrical marketing and an aggressive grassroots and faith-based outreach. Provident held screenings across the country, providing resources and materials for pastors and churches to spread the word about the film. Through its vast network and databases, Provident created opportunities for leaders to bring the film to their respective areas and generate excitement in their communities.

Communities across the U.S. are using the film as a tool to support local firefighters, police, and other first responders' groups with divorce rates up to 90 percent. As first responders and their spouses spend a night at the movies, volunteer babysitting brigades on are the job, freeing up couples to go. Parents buy tickets for their married children. Churches buy for members and use the movie to kick off marriage courses.

High advance sales accounted for 40 percent of all Fandango.com sales as of Friday morning. In the week before its opening, FIREPROOF pre-sold more than $1 million in tickets – far above the predicted blockbusters.

Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, said: "Congratulations to Alex and Stephen Kendrick for showing once again that they know how to make a movie both entertaining and substantive. FIREPROOF will make you laugh, cry, and reflect. I'm confident audiences will continue to support it."

"The success of FIREPROOF is an example of the combination of great writing and storytelling, proper setup and marketing execution, all directed at an underserved audience hungry for filmed entertainment that meets their needs in many ways," said Terry A. Hemmings, president & CEO, Provident Music Group.

"Opening weekend turnout is a testament to grassroots marketing," said Provident Executive Vice President Ben Howard. "We spent nine months getting this movie and its message to the right people . . . now it's charging away on its own momentum."

Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer, said: "We believe good stories can have a good effect. This film was made by a small army of people who poured into something bigger than themselves – into noot just a movie, but a movement to restore and uplift marriages across the country."

Bob Rubin, executive vice president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which oversees the Affirm Films label, one of the film's acquisition partners, said: "The faith market is a vast and underserved community with a growing appetite for filmed content that is both inspirational and entertaining. We are delighted to be part of the team that brought FIREPROOF to audiences nationwide."

A book entitled The Love Dare (www.bhpublishinggroup.com/lovedare) was only a plot device in the film until audiences repeatedly requested copies for themselves. The book also debuted in stores this weekend, having pre-sold 600,000 copies. Written by the Kendrick brothers, The Love Dare finished the weekend at #12 on Amazon.com and currently is in its seventh printing.

In coming weeks, Goldwyn plans to expand film's release to more than 1,000 screens.

This is the third movie by Sherwood Pictures, its second theatrical release. FLYWHEEL, produced in 2004, has sold 200,000 DVDs. FACING THE GIANTS in 2006, earned $10.1 million at the box office and has sold more than 1.6 million DVDs (in 58 countries and 14 languages).

Provident Films is a division of Provident Music Group, designed to produce and distribute faith-based films. Sony BMG Music Entertainment's Provident Music Group is one of the world's leading Christian music companies. Provident Music Group operates under the umbrella for Sony BMG Nashville.

Samuel Goldwyn Films is a major, independently owned and operated motion-picture company that develops produces and distributes innovative feature films and documentaries. The company is dedicated to working with world renowned and emerging writers and filmmakers and, committed to filmed entertainment that offers original voices in uniquely told stories. This steadfastness is best exemplified by the Oscar-nominated THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, SUPER SIZE ME, AMAZING GRACE and Julie Delpy's hit comedy 2 DAYS IN PARIS. Goldwyn's 2008 slate also includes PRICELESS, a romantic comedy starring Audrey Tautou, Oscar-winner Claude Lelouch's ROMAN DE GARE, FUGITIVE PIECES based on the international bestseller by Anne Michaels, TRUMBO, the acclaimed documentary about Oscar-winner Dalton Trumbo and the critically hailed ELEGY, starring Oscar nominee Penélope Cruz and Oscar winner Ben Kingsley.


* except Hannah Montana in 3D

Read our interview with Stephen Kendrick here.
New! Read our interview with Kirk Cameron.
Read our review of Fireproof the movie.
Read our review of Fireproof the novel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Billy The Early Years film releasing to theaters October 10

The coming-of-age story of 20th century icon Billy Graham will be seen on the big screen this fall through the release of the film Billy: The Early Years. This highly anticipated film will be released theatrically on October 10, 2008 across the country.

Billy: The Early Years captures the true essence of Graham’s life’s journey from an earnest young man at the crossroads of faith and doubt, to ultimately facing the moment of decision that launched one of history's most influential evangelists. Starting out with the tranquility of the Graham dairy farm in North Carolina, Billy: The Early Years depicts the look and feel of the Depression-era as we accompany Graham to the tent revival where he finally heeds the altar call, and follows him through the struggle of doubt and resolution of the next decade of his life.

The film paints a vivid portrait of Graham against the backdrop of his relationship with the evangelical star of the 1940’s, Charles Templeton, a gifted young preacher whose faith would not withstand the onslaught of scientific skepticism. Templeton and Graham eventually part ways, and in the film, Templeton comes to personify the rising tide of disbelief into which Graham launched his crusades. The movie’s power lies in it’s honest portrayal of Graham’s struggle with the ideas represented in Templeton’s eventual unbelief and shows how Graham’s faith, so compellingly represented in the film, goes on to change the face of modern evangelism in the second half of the 20th Century.

Graham is portrayed in the film by rising young star, Armie Hammer (Veronica Mars, Flicka), who was announced as the upcoming Batman/Bruce Wayne in the new film, Justice League: Mortal. Hammer plays an incredibly authentic and poignant Graham, and takes the viewer deep into the heart of this iconic world-renowned yet humble figure.

Directed by veteran Actor/Director and Golden Globe nominee, Robby Benson (the voice of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Ode To Billy Joe, Ice Castles, The Greatest Story Ever Told), the Billy: The Early Years’ cast includes well-known Hollywood talent including Oscar-winner Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible, Ed Wood) and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman); as well as Stefanie Butler (CSI: NY), daughter of ex-Atlanta Brave Brett Butler; Kristoffer Polaha (North Shore) and platinum selling country sensation Josh Turner (“Long Black Train”) as singer George Beverly Shea. John Carter Cash, son of John and June Carter Cash, serves as music producer.

Together with Rocky Mountain Pictures, In Service America, Interlinc and other additional marketing partners, the Billy: The Early Years marketing plan will seek to create significant grassroots traction while radio, television and newspaper advertising and promotions will work in conjunction with additional aspects of the campaign. The film launch will also encompass a number of strategic marketing elements, including more than 50 VIP screenings in key markets, a soundtrack highlighting Christian and country music artists, key events built around Graham’s 90th birthday, a novel of the work published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and an upcoming home entertainment DVD release.

Nashville based Landis Entertainment & Media Partners, run by Barry Landis, will spearhead all marketing aspects of the film, in association with the distributor Solex/MATP. Landis, a long time entertainment marketer of faith-based properties for major, high level entertainment and corporate conglomerates such as Wrigley’s and AT&T was also the head of companies such as Atlantic Records, Warner Bros. and KOCH Records Christian divisions, has made a solid mark on the entertainment world through his visionary accomplishments and multiple career achievements.

Producers Larry Mortorff and Martin Shiel commented, “We are extremely excited to be surrounded with such an amazing team and have tremendous confidence in their ability to market this distinguished and touching new film.” Producer Bill McKay said, “Barry Landis is a blend of an entertainment strategist as well as a great wrangler and distiller of the group’s ideas.”

Filmed in and around Nashville, Tennessee with a 90% Tennessee crew, Billy: The Early Years made perfect use of the new incentive plan from the state of Tennessee that grants up to a 32% cash rebate. "This particular film is definitely in Tennessee's 'sweet spot',” said Perry Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. “We love the subject matter and were bowled over at how the producers put together such a talented Tennessee cast and crew, as well as garnered some the top names in the Nashville music industry. We’d welcome them back anytime, they were really terrific."

For more information about the film, please visit www.billytheearlyyears.com.

Click here to watch the trailer (Quicktime download).

SYNOPSIS: Billy Graham is one of the most influential figures of all time. He has spoken to over 2 billion people in person and through TV and radio in the past 90 years. He counseled nine United States Presidents. His messages have changed the face of modern religion. In BILLY, the unforgettable newcomer Armie Hammer portrays Billy Graham as a young man making a choice
between science and religion, family and friendships, and his desire to pursue a career in evangelism, breaking away from his family’s dairy-farming roots in rural Tennessee. BILLY is narrated by Graham’s lifelong friend and childhood rival Charles Templeton (Academy Award® Winner Martin Landau), a man who chose a path of science in his quest to educate the masses. Set against the 1940’s Depression Era, BILLY paints an old-fashioned, charismatic portrait of a man who took the world by storm as an adult, but who never revealed much about his upbringing…until now.

The Imposter film starring Kevin Max to premier in October

Kevin Max (Christian music group dcTalk) is headlining the faith-based motion picture “The Imposter”, which will have its world-wide premiere in theaters in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston in October. Serendipitous Films, a Texas-based
production company, shot the film in Texas and is excited to start the release in the home state. The movie also stars Kerry Livgren (Kansas, Proto-Kaw), and Jeff Deyo (formerly Sonicflood). Max joins writer/director Daniel Millican whose past film credits include The Keyman, A Promise Kept (currently on Lifetime) and Striking Range (currently on Starz).

The movie will screen at The Studio Movie Grill at their Plano, Lewisville and Arlington locations in the Dallas metro area as well as their Houston theater. It will screen for five nights starting on Sunday, October 12 through Thursday October 16.

The movie joins a growing movement in the faith-based storytelling market. The major studios in recent years have created faith-based divisions to bring stories to the Christian marketplace. The movie will screen at The Studio Movie Grill in Plano, Arlington, and Dallas for the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area and at Copperfield and CityCentre in Houston. It will screen Sunday through Thursdays and Saturday afternoons for two weeks.

What sets The Imposter apart from Millican’s other work, though, is his interesting shift towards the Christian market, with a pointed focus on the Christian music industry. Max’s character, “Johnny C” is the lead singer of a faith-based, chart-topping band, but his personal demons—drug addiction and ego—send him on a downward spiral in which he loses everything that’s meaningful in his life. “It’s basically the ‘prodigal son' story,” Max explains, “And it is one that every artist, rebel or wayward person can relate to.”

“I wanted to write a story that is real,” states Millican. “I know that God can miraculously stretch forth His hand and fix my problems, but more often than not, He’s interested in me going through a process. Not just offering some quick fix so I can go off and make the same mistakes again.”

“It’s about walking out what you believe, not just talking.” Max adds, “The integrity level on this project is amazing. Reading about my character and what he goes through brought another jolt of love for the Creator and His grace and love for us.” Millican, with his distinct vision for the film, knew Kevin Max would be the perfect person to play the role of “Johnny C.” “While I was writing the script, I thought about Kevin. I thought he’d be an interesting choice,” says Millican. The character’s depth required someone with the acting chops of a professional, as well as an insider’s
knowledge of the music industry; Max brings both to the table with his Grammy winning music and his off-Broadway theatre experience.

Says Max of playing the starring role in The Imposter: "I have wanted to get involved in film for quite sometime now, but my schedule and music always took the lead… At last, I have found something that fits where I am as an artist, and a story that I can believe in.”

Co-star Kerry Livgren, a key member of the rock group Kansas, wrote such classics as ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and ‘Dust in the Wind.’ Jeff Deyo was a member of the Christian music group Sonicflood and currently tours all over the world. The movie, set inside the Christian music industry will be very music driven. A rerecording of the famous “Carry On Wayward Son” will lead the music, which also include four songs of Kevin Max, four songs by the group Downhere, several new songs featuring Max and Jeff Deyo as well as several songs from Kerry Livgren.

Watch the trailer: