The Christian film from executive producer Tim Tebow debuts this weekend.
Run the Race is the second faith-based film to hit the big screen this year (The Least of These was the first) and it has a lot going for it from a commercial perspective. Though the production budget hasn't been released, it is not high - having seen the movie, we're guessing around $3 million - so profitability is well within its reach.
A fictitious tale about teenage brothers relying on each other and their athletic ability to overcome difficult circumstances, the movie has a proven cast. Evan Hofer and Tanner Stine star as the boys and veteran actors Kristoffer Polaha, Mykelti Williamson, Frances Fisher and Mario Van Peebles play supporting roles, so there are no amateurish performances here. Director Chris Dowling and his crew also know their business and the story-telling is well thought-out and executed.
The executive producers - Tim Tebow and his older brother Robby Tebow - are, indeed, new to the movie business, but "have intangibles," to use a sports expression. The younger Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy-winner, two-time college football national champion, NFL quaterback and current professional baseball player, is very likely the most high-profile Christian athlete in America.
How high-profile? A week ago, Tebow, who is also now engaged to the 2017 Miss Universe, did half a dozen national TV interviews in one day about this movie - Today Show, Good Morning America, Hannity, The Tonight Show, et cetera - and the film paid a grand total of, wait for it: NOTHING! That is star-power-turned-marketing-power that virtually no low-budget film possesses. And he has enlisted public support from friends in the Christian community, too, like Franklin Graham.
So how high is the bar for reaching box office profitability? Typically, a Hollywood movie has to more than double its production budget to make a profit because of marketing and other additional costs. So if we're right about the budget of this one being around $3 million, then it needs to clear $6 million.
Indivisible, a Christian film from last year, provides a useful comparison. A true story about a US Army chaplain fighting to save his marriage, it had a proven cast - Sarah Drew, Justin Bruening and one Tanner Stine - and a low budget, $2.3 million, to go along with a compelling, Gospel-focused story. It also debuted in 800-plus theaters, like Run the Race. That movie did not, however, have any figure attatched who could generate both free publicity and social media-buzz a la Tim Tebow.
Indivisible was in release for 10 weeks and brought in $3.5 million, so it covered, but did not double its production budget. It went on sale on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital at the end of January and there will no doubt be streaming platform/TV deals done, too, meaning more revenue is in the offing. Any profit, however, is unlikely to be sizable.
Back to Run the Race, expectations for this opening weekend are decent. Box Office Mojo anticipates anything between $2 and $3 million and a likely Top-10 finish (Indivisible did $1.5 million and claimed 13th place). That would be a good start, especially, with a sub-1000 theater count. Check back in with Christian Film Blog on Monday to find out about those numbers.