Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s War Room led both the 2015 Christian box office and home entertainment sales. The story of a struggling marriage and a wise, elderly woman’s prayer life saw audiences flock to the theater and to Christian Cinema to purchase the film on DVD and BluRay to watch and share with their neighbors. In the film, Tony (T.C. Stallings) and Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) have a big house, a beautiful daughter, and a good life as far as an outsider might see. But Tony is emotionally and physically unavailable, and abusive when he is around. Then, Elizabeth meets Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), who tells her she needs to seek God’s guidance to turn her life around. It’s this relationship that the Kendrick Brothers focused on, hoping to encourage us to begin our battles on our knees. Thanks to the $73 million box office return on a $3.7 million budget, the film is sixth on the all-time Christian box office list. Three other Sherwood Films, Courageous (#28), Facing the Giants (#35),and Fireproof (#44), also proved to have staying power in 2015.
"The quality of Christian movies continues to elevate; higher production values, casting choices and better storytelling." said ChristianCinema.com Vice President Jared Geesey. "The Kendrick Brothers have successfully navigated making solid films on a budget, and War Room proves that audiences will respond. We couldn’t be happier for their success and the impact on lives that we are seeing!"
Alone Yet Not Alone, the #2 release of 2015, first hit theaters in 2013, but a strong reception - and an Academy Awards controversy surrounding Joni Eareckson Tada’s theme song of the same name - drove buzz about the film. Recounting the real-life adventures of the Leininger family, German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania, the film highlights the story of Barbara and Regina who were kidnapped by Delaware Indians during the French and Indian War in the 1755 Penn’s Creek Massacre. While the box office draw was just shy of a million dollars, the home release sales in 2015 proved that this period piece had plenty to share about what it means to rely on God even in the hardest circumstances.
Beyond the Mask landed third on this year’s list thanks to an at-home audience that used a Kickstarter campaign to finance the theatrical release. Producer Aaron Burns told Christian Cinema that they set out to create a film that would help families discuss faith after watching an exciting film. With help from Stephen Kendrick, the Burns cousins worked out those themes in an American Revolution era film. Against this backdrop, Will Reynolds, the former leading mercenary for the British East India Company is on the run in the American Colonies from the nefarious Charles Kemp (John Rhys-Davies). Working to redeem his name and win back the affections of the woman with whom he's never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. But what he discovers is that wearing a mask physically or emotionally can’t save him from a life of despair - only the grace of God can do that.
Do You Believe? landed fourth on the list of home media releases and eighteenth on the all-time box office list, highlighting Pure Flix’s second major ensemble film. Featuring theology from James 2:17, a pastor’s encounter with a street evangelist shakes up the lives of twelve people connected through an area hospital. Headlined by Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Lee Majors, Cybil Shepherd, Delroy Lindo, and Brian Bosworth, the film highlights a Crash-like interweaving of stories that has appealed to Christian audiences in the theater and at home. With a budget of $2.3 million, the film’s $14.4 million haul more than exceeded expectations, joining War Room as the other big film of 2015.
Forty years after the story of Corrie ten Boom made headlines with The Hiding Place, director Peter Spencer told the story of those who fought Nazi oppression with her in Return to the Hiding Place, the fifth best-sold movie of 2015. Spencer’s friendship with Hans Poley, who had been a brilliant young physics student during the Nazi rise, led him to incorporate his interviews with Poley into the feature film that served as a companion piece to the original. Through Poley, the audience meets resistance fighter, Piet Hartog, and the love of Piet's life - Aty van Woerden (Corrie ten Boom's niece), as they attempt to avoid the Nazis and shepherd Jews to safety. When they determine that an entire orphanage must be saved from murder, the story’s tension reaches its highest peak. [Twenty-ninth on the list this year was the dual-disc of The Hiding Place/Return to the Hiding Place together.]
At number six, Kirk Cameron returns to our list with Saving Christmas, an attempt to help audiences keep Christ in Christmas. Written by Cameron’s co-star, Darren Doane, the holiday comedy begins with a debate over what Christmas is really all about and if there’s a Biblical precedent or not. When his brother-in-law declares he believes Christmas is too commercialized, Kirk sets out to explain how everything about Christmas should be tied to the Bible. With merely a half-million budget, the film’s $2.8 million box office was a financial success, adding to Cameron’s work on the other film on the list, Fireproof.
Another Pure Flix film lands at #7 (and #71 all time at the Christian Box Office) as Faith of Our Fathers tells the story of two sons seeking to understand the motivation and mentality of their deceased fathers. In this road trip buddy film that is at times laugh out loud funny and enough to make you weep, Kevin Downes and David A.R. White star as the sons of two deceased American soldiers who wrote letters home from the jungles of war. The two sons struggle with what they read in these letters as they drive together toward the Vietnam Memorial, opening their hearts to faith in the process. Produced by Christian Cinema’s own Bobby Downes, the film ties together the strands of faith, brotherhood, fatherhood, patriotism, and war in a moving drama.
Bobby Downes, President and Co-founder of ChristianCinema.com, said, "Like many of the films on our list, Faith of Our Fathers aims to tell a genuine story with real faith. For Kevin and me, this was a tribute to the veterans in our lives, and we hope it will lead others to embrace their responsibility in fatherhood as well."
Christian Cinema’s number one bestseller last year (and eighth all-time for Christian films at the box office), Pure Flix’s hit from 2013 God’s Not Dead was the eighth highest-rated film of 2015. Starring Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A.R. White, and Dean Cain, with special appearances by Christian super-band Newsboys and Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson, the film shines a light on the way Christians are challenged to take a stand and share their faith in the world today. When college professor Radisson (Sorbo) tells his class, including freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Harper), that he must deny the existence of God to pass his philosophy class, Christianity is on trial. When Josh refuses to recant, he finds himself in opposition to Radisson, his girlfriend, and others, who think his faith shouldn’t interfere with his college career.
At number nine is Before All Others, the story of how a widowed senior’s lonely life takes a turn. An elderly woman agrees to take care of her granddaughter, who has been struck with a paralyzing disease, that she hasn’t seen in over twenty years. Here, in this modern day parable, the love of God shows up through mercy and sacrifice.
At the tenth and fifteenth spots on the Christian Cinema list of 100 home media releases of 2015 are the first two seasons of When Calls the Heart. Janette Oke’s books inspired this series directed by Michael Landon Jr., providing with fans a look at yesteryear that stands the test of time. When socialite and teacher Elizabeth Thatcher arrives in the mining town of Coal Valley, she is not ready for nineteenth century life on the fringes of society. But the local police officer Jack Thornton may provide her with a saving grace, if her neighbors don’t get to her first. Other Oke inspirations join the list as well, with Love’s Christmas Journey (#19) and Love’s Everlasting Courage (#62), and Love Begins (#65),
Other notable films in the 2015 top 100 of Christian Cinema list include:
At number fourteen is the true story of Travis Freeman, who went blind unexpectedly as a teenager, In a small town in Kentucky, Freeman inspires a community, after his parents, coach, and physical therapist move him to 23 Blast. This above average football player finds himself wrestling with day-to-day efforts after his optic nerve becomes infected, but his friends and family refuse to let him give up. Freeman and his best friend, Jerry Baker, prove to support each other through the battles they would each face in the next chapter of their lives, both on and off the gridiron. For sports fans and those seeking an inspirational true story, Travis Freeman’s story will check all of the boxes.
At number seventeen, Four Blood Moons explores the rare lunar phenomenon that Pastor John Hagee focused his book of the same name, representing the first of several documentaries on the list. With 750,000 copies in print, the book translated into a well-received special cinematic event and subsequent DVD release. The film won the ICVM 2015 Bronze Crown Award for Best Documentary thanks to the production of Rick Eldridge and the direction of Academy Award winner® Kieth Merrill. Combining scripture, science, history and big-screen action that covers hundreds of years’ worth of lunar occurrences and cultural change, the film looks at the way that the latest moon cycles could impact Israel, the Middle East, and the world. Featuring religious scholars, historians, and other commentators including Dinesh D’Souza, Dennis Prager, and David Barton, this documentary will ask you to think about the world in a new way.
Another romance logs in at number eighteen, as Old Fashioned tells the story of reformed frat boy Clay Walsh, who runs an antique shop in a small Midwest town. Amber Hewson, reeling from her own romantic casualties, sets her sights on him but can’t believe anyone would be as ‘old school’ romantic as Walsh. Walsh’s ideas about courtship, romance, and friendship shock her sensibilities, even while he finds himself attracted more and more to Hewson. The Pure Flix film, which won the 2015 ICVM Gold Crown Award for Best Picture, proves that some morals don’t fade with time, they just grow stronger with practice. Marking the fourth of Pure Flix’s films to be on this year’s list, it is joined by Turnaround Jake (#23), The Book of Daniel (#33), Finding Normal (30), The Wager (#84), What If (#62), Revelation Road: Black Rider (#57), and Revelation Road 2:The Sea of Glass and Fire.
Another "old fashioned" film, Polycarp, lands on the list at #19. The winner of the 2015 ICVM Silver Crown Award for Best Evangelistic Film shines a light on the lives of those saints of the church who lived in the period immediately after the Book of Acts. When a young slave girl, Anna, finds herself rescued and adopted, she learns a new perspective on the world from second century Smyrna’s Bishop Polycarp (Garry Nation). While she learns about Christianity, she realizes that the Roman rule will soon force her to choose between Christ or Caesar. As Polycarp and the other Christians are forced to make decisions about their lives of faith, Anna must decide if Christianity is worth dying for.
In the #20 film, Christian Mingle: The Movie, thirtysomething marketing executive Gwyneth Hayden has the job, clothes, apartment, and friends to check out all of the successful markers in our fifteenth film. But Hayden believes she’s missing the man in her life, and goes to the Christian Mingle website to help her find Mr. Right. When she fails to impress her dream guy thanks to what he calls her fake faith, she realizes that before she can be truly happy, she must develop a relationship with God in a moment that changes everything in this film directed by Corbin Bernsen.
At #26, the true story Different Drummers strikes up a beat against overmedicating the personality out of our children. In 1965, an unlikely friendship forms between the wheelchair-bound David and the hyperactive ten-year-old Lyle. When David shares his faith with Lyle, Lyle sets out to determine if God really exists, while struggling with Jack LaLanne’s message that he can work "a miracle through intestinal fortitude and willpower." Determined to help David run again, Lyle works hard to make the miracle happen, challenging audiences young and old to believe. Aimed at helping families and schools see their children differently, real-life Lyle Hatcher’s story will melt your heart.
The fifty-fourth film on the 2015 list, 90 Minutes in Heaven stars Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth as Don and Eva Piper. After a horrific car accident, Don is pronounced dead on the scene on January 18, 1989, but when another pastor prays over him, he is brought back to life. But Don wrestles with the heaven he experienced during that hour and a half while he lies broken and battered in the hospital, alienating his wife and friends. But as Eva raises their three kids alone, they also wrestle with God’s providence and peace. Directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish, the film shows us a gritty view of what it means to be faithful even in the midst of darkness and despair.
Two other new documentaries burst onto the list in 2015, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus and The Drop Box (at numbers 64 and 72). In the first, filmmaker Timothy Mahoney unveils an extensive study and archaeological adventure that was a decade in the making; in the second, former USC film student Brian Ivie went to South Korea to track down a remarkable pastor saving abandoned children from death on the street. While the first is more detailed and academic, and the second is emotional and personal, both films share the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way intended to move audiences and strengthen their faith.
Christian Cinema’s #85 film of 2015, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken translates Laura Hillenbrand’s story of real-life Olympian and POW Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell). After surviving for forty-seven days in a raft, Zamperini spent the next chapter of his life imprisoned in a brutal POW camp. Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, Garrett Hedlund, and Migavi costar. "The Legacy of Faith" edition also includes over ninety minutes of bonus content. Fans of Zamperini can also find out more about this remarkable man in #77, Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace.
The fifth film on the all-time Christian Box Office list, Heaven Is For Real comes in at #100 this year. Starring Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® award winning actor Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo and Kelly Reilly as Sonja Burpo, the film shares how these brave parents negotiated their son Colton’s (Connor Corum) experience of heaven after a near-death experience. Based on the book of the same name, the film was part of last year’s rash of Christian movies that took the box office by storm to the surprise of critics and the mainstream media.
Bobby Downes, co-founder and CEO, said, "The most popular response to first time visitors to ChristianCinema.com is ‘Wow, I didn't realize there were that many Christian movies.’"