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Sherwood Baptist Church's Fireproof Ablaze

Indie Film Far Surpasses Industry Expectations To Open At #4 In The Country With $6.8 Million

Sherwood Baptist Church's 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 church's third film following Flywheel.

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 ticketsfar 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 themselvesinto not 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.

SHERWOOD PICTURES

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

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

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.

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