• Thomas Bonifield

"Breakthrough" Could Do Just That at Box Office

Unlike most Christian films, this one has all of the big Hollywood studio machinery behind it.

Chrissy Metz in a scene from "Breakthrough."

Breakthrough, from Christian producer DeVon Franklin, is timing its launch for the Easter weekend. It tells the true story of a Missouri teen named John Smith, who fell into an icy lake and was submerged for 15 minutes. Once rescued, he had no heartbeat for 45 minutes more. Doctors were prepared to pronounce time of death when his mother, Joyce, prayed aloud for God to save her son. John's heart then suddenly started to beat and he eventually made a complete recovery.


That miracle captured the attention of the nation when it happened back in 2015, making all the major papers and TV networks. The movie, based on a memoir by Joyce Smith, has a very good chance to garner a similarly large audience in theaters, starting this week, because beyond the incredible true story of God's direct and loving intervention, Breakthrough has a lot of other things going for it.


First, unlike most faith-based fare, it is not an independent film. It has the backing of the Hollywood big guys: 20th Century Fox is the production company and it will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in the first such arrangement since Disney acquired Fox's movie operation. In other words, this picture has real heavyweight support and will benefit from their know-how, reach - it's opening in 2,700 theaters - and marketing muscle, to name but a few advantages.


The production budget is not public knowledge, and we haven't seen the movie yet, but we're going to guess somewhere in the $15 millon to $20 million range, judging by the storyline, the cost of similar productions and the cast. That latter item is another big strength: there are some prominent Tinseltown stars in this one: Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace and Mike Colter. And on the soundtrack, two Grammy winners, including country megastar Carrie Underwood, will be crooning to set the mood for of this one. As if that weren't enough, NBA all-star Stephen Curry is along for the ride as executive producer.


So what's it going to do at the box office? A similar faith-based movie from a few years ago provides a useful comparison. Miracles from Heaven was also a true story about a traumatic event involving a child who was supernaturally saved by God. It, too, was based on a book by said child's mother, and we'll give you three guesses as to who the producer was...yes, none other than DeVon Franklin. That film had Hollywood star power - Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifa, a big studio behind it - Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures, and cost $13 million to make. In other words, a good guide.


Miracles from Heaven did what it was supposed to do. The movie brought in almost $74 million in worldwide revenue and it claimed 8th place on the all-time box office list in the Christian genre. We at Christian Film Blog expect similar numbers from Breakthrough.


Its performance on opening weekend should give a clear indication. The experts at Boxoffice Pro have put out a huge possible range of $12 - $20 million. Miracles from Heaven did almost $15 million on its debut weekend, which was two weeks before Easter, and it had 300 more theaters than Breakthrough. This one has generated a lot of buzz, though - 125 million views of its trailer - and we're going to go with a $16 million open.


Breakthrough also has a good shot at being the largest grossing Christian movie of this year, though Overcomer from the Kendrick Brothers, out in August, will likely have something to say about that. That is, however, an issue for another time, so we won't get ahead of ourselves. As to this film, it's getting an early jump, opening this Wednesday. We'll follow its performance closely and hope to have the opening weekend box office details on Sunday night.

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