“Risen,” a film that tells of Jesus’ resurrection from the eyes of an unsaved soldier who participated in His crucifixion, opened in first place at the box office among new wide releases the weekend of Feb. 19–21, Box Office Mojo reported.
The movie grossed an estimated $11.8 million, well ahead of its nearest competitor among new releases “The Witch,” which took in 8.68 million.
Among all films at theaters, Risen brought in $4.015 million to place second on opening night Feb. 19 behind the blockbuster “Deadpool,” but over the entire weekend finished a distant third to the comic book fantasy, which raked in an estimated $55 million.
Risen was also a crowd pleaser, garnering a CinemaScore of A- in ratings received from movie goers on opening night, and is anticipated to remain in theatres through Easter, March 27. Movieguide gave the film four stars, its highest rating, but advised discretion for older children
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., called Risen “a must see for pastors and their congregations.”
“Risen is intriguing in that we all wonder what the response of the religious establishment of Jesus’ day would have been after His death and resurrection,” said Hunt. “Risen being fiction simply imagines what might have been.”
Producer Mickey Liddell and director Kevin Reynolds said they worked to remain true enough to Scripture to please the faith community, but dramatic enough to entertain unbelievers.
“We don’t really want to tell anyone what they should believe,” Reynolds said. “People can use this film as a vehicle to examine their own spirituality, or just enjoy the story purely from a cinematic standpoint.”
The lead character Clavius is a fictional Roman military officer but the film includes biblical characters including Jesus, the disciples, Mary Magdalene and Pontius Pilate. Movie promoters noted the movie strives to achieve historical accuracy.
Risen drew an audience predominantly of 25-year-olds and above, but Josh Griffin, high school pastor at Saddleback Church and founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com, recommends the film for teenagers as well as adults.
Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures, has distributed top faith-based films including the Kendrick Brothers’ “War Room” and “Courageous.” Risen ministry resources include a church kit with customizable sermon outlines, outreach resources including postcards, door hangers and bulletin inserts, and a novel from Bethany House Publishers. More information is available at risen-movie.com.