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Before 'October Baby': 5 Faith-Based Indies That Became Box Office Hits

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 27, 2012 at 1:21PM

While most box office-related stories from this past weekend were all about the unprecendented numbers that came via "The Hunger Games," there was another success story lying in its shadow. 
1
"October Baby"
"October Baby"

While most box office-related stories from this past weekend were all about the unprecendented numbers that came via "The Hunger Games," there was another success story lying in its shadow. 

On 390 screens, Samuel Goldwyn released Andrew and Jon Erwin's "October Baby" and, despite a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 24%, the film placed in the top 10 alongside studio films playing on five or 10 times the screens. The film -- about a college freshman who learns she is the "adopted survivor of an attempted abortion" (so says the film's official description) -- grossed $1,697,130 and averaged $4,352  per screen (which was the third highest in the top 10 after "Games" and "21 Jump Street"). That means it's already more than made up for its $1 million budget.

Inspired by a YouTube video chronicling the experiences of real-life abortion survivor Gianna Jessen, the film was heavily promoted in churches and other faith-based organizations, following a considerable line of independent films that have done the same.

Here's five other Christian-fueled indies that made some serious green:

1. The Passion of the Christ
Release Date: February 25, 2004
Distributor: Newmarket
Budget: $30 million
Gross: $370.8 million

What Went Down: Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" stands apart from every other example on this list in that it became a genuine blockbuster that broke well beyond the faith-based market. 

Covering the final 12 hours of Jesus' life, the film was produced independently by Gibson and his Icon Prods. with no outside funding. Paul Lauer spearheaded the entire faith-based campaign as Director of Marketing for the film. Newmarket came on later focused on the distribution and mainstream PR. There were no press junkets, a small-scale TV campaign and a heavy promotion in church groups, who often gave away free tickets.

The result? A staggering $83.8 million opening weekend and an eventual gross of $370.8 million - the highest total ever for any independent film.

This article is related to: Box Office






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