The faith-based film War Room has knocked its forerunner, Straight Outta Compton, out of first place in the box office. The low-budget film only cost the Kendrick brothers $3.5 million to make but has already grossed at least $24.7 million since its release. The film tells the story of a woman in a marital crisis who turns to God for the solution. Instead of fighting physically with her husband, she resorts to her closet which becomes her “war room” to pray for strength and direction in hopes of saving her marriage.
The movie surrounds a couple named Tony and Elizabeth Jordan who have one daughter, great jobs, and a dream house. Although everything looks appealing from the outside, inwardly their world is crumbling. Tony is experiencing professional success which often includes traveling, however, as he goes in and out-of-town on business he often finds himself in the company of women flirting with the idea of adultery. Elizabeth, a realtor, has realized some success selling houses, but acknowledges her husband as the main “breadwinner.”
Things take a turn for Elizabeth when she meets her newest client, Miss Clara. Miss Clara is an older, spiritual woman who challenges Elizabeth to fight for her marriage where it counts, in prayer. Miss Clara educates the discouraged wife on the power of prayer and strategic battle when it comes to issues such as marital dysfunction. Elizabeth is then challenged to develop a battle plan and establish a war room in order to fight for her dissolving family.
Tony (T. C. Stallings) and Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) find themselves in a state of disarray with their daughter Danielle (Alena Pitts) stuck in the middle. Elizabeth becomes increasingly bitter as she faces the strain of a failing marriage. She loves her husband but is refusing to stand idly by while he continues to flirt with temptation. Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) questions Elizabeth about her marriage and faith before advising the distressed woman on the necessary strategy to obtain victory.
Unlike many successful films, the team behind the movie did not rely on the typical promotional methods that Hollywood is accustomed to. Instead, the Kendrick brothers connected with a network of influential pastors to help spread the word. The unorthodox manner has quickly turned into a huge success for War Room. The movie which consists of a primarily African-American cast has risen to first place in the box office. When questioned about the non-traditional method of promotion, Alex Kendrick said:
We know that word-of-mouth is going to be the best promotion for any kind of movie, and so we will show the whole film to leaders and say, ‘If you like it, help us spread the word. If you don’t like it, don’t tell anybody.’
Kendrick believes that there is a growing recognition in the world which understands the need for God. As people look around at what is occurring in the world today, many confess that they need an anchor. The brothers said they are not concerned with the film’s critics, instead the focus is on spreading a message of faith to a target audience which is usually ignored by mainstream films. War Room’s success has surprised Sony’s studio executives, but not the Kendrick brothers.
After leading the box office for the past three weekends, Straight Outta Compton has now fallen to second place. The film, which is a biopic directed by F. Gary Gray, tells the story of the rise and fall of the legendary hip hop rap group N.W.A. War Room, reaping the benefits of a strong word of mouth, has risen to first place surpassing Straight Outta Compton to become a box office success.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Business Standard: Sony’s ‘War Room’ leads North American box office
All Photos Courtesy of ‘War Room’ Press Release (by David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films)