Faith-based Soul Surfer surpassed Hollywood expectations finishing 4th in the weekend box office. The Sony Tri-Star film came within 14% of much-hyped 2nd place Arthur and 3rd place Hanna. Soul Surfer, which cost $18M to make, earned $11.1M in its first weekend. Only Hop had a higher “per screen” average for the weekend. (See Weekend box office chart.)
Soul Surfer also earned a rare A+ rating from CinemaScore — a Las Vegas based marketing firm carefully watched by Hollywood. CinemaScore gathers data from actual opening day audiences, and is eerily accurate at predicting film success. Disney’s Tangled ($200M domestic) was the last film to earn an A+. Other classics earning A+ ratings include Academy Award winners Schindler’s List, Titanic, Forrest Gump, and Dances with Wolves, as well as box office hits such as Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, and Aladdin.
Youth Group tie-ins most likely helped Soul Surfer grab an audience that was 56% under the age of 25. This coveted demographic has been declining in theaters due to video game, DVD, and social networking popularity. Soul Surfer‘s success with this group could greatly increase Hollywood interest in the film’s formula. Sony president of distribution Rory Bruer told The Hollywood Reporter, “There’s a lot of love for this film.”
Soul Surfer is a solid film with breathtaking cinematography, and an even more breathtaking story. Strong acting in Hamilton family roles–AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Ross Thomas, Chris Brochu–and gorgeous cinematography are hampered by a too “on the nose” script, sanitized emotions, uneven directing, and less than stellar acting outside Hamilton family.
The story soars above typical sports movie cliches with clear faith elements and an other-centered emphasis all too rare in Hollywood today. Timely connection to Tsunami relief only adds to story. One of the best faith-based films to date. Highly recommended.
Entertainment Weekly, “April 10 Box Office Report.”
The Hollywood Reporter, “Box Office Report: ‘Hop’ Beats ‘Arthur’ in Domestic Race
Box Office Mojo, “April 10 Weekend Chart”
Entertainment Wire, “CinemaScore A+ Films of the 1990’s”
CinemaScore, Facebook Page