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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

"Play the Flute" Beats "John Wick 3"

Wow, the Christian film bests the number one movie and the rest of the Top-20 at the box office...sort of.

Fred Grandy in a scene from "Play the Flute."

Play the Flute had a big day on Monday, earning better than $1,660 per theater, according to Box Office Mojo, which is almost $200 more than the number one film - John Wick 3 - managed. Now, to be fair, the faith-based movie only played in four theaters and brought in a total of $6,600 versus 3,800 theaters and a whopping $5.7 million for the Keanu Reeves action flick.

But the per theater average still gives a sense of the degree to which Play the Flute writer/director Rich Christiano has mastered his unique distribution model. A veteran of the faith-based genre, he eschews the traditional approach of locking his films in with one distributor for an eight to ten week theatrical run. Instead, he works with churches and Christian organizations that sponsor each local showing and benefit by a revenue sharing scheme.

This latest Christiano film has been showing since January and already has bookings going into the month of August, which is much, much longer than a normal theatrical run for a faith-based picture. Granted, Play the Flute is not showing every day and will likely not play in every major US city, but the model works for Christiano, who tends to shoot lower budget fare.

That is not to say, however, amateurish. This film, for instance, which deals with a youth pastor trying to win over a group of teens who are indifferent about the faith, features Hollywood veterans Fred Grandy, Clint Howard and Loretta Swit as well as Christian actor Brett Varvel and a host of talented young players. We have not been able to find a budget for the movie, but it has so far earned $140,000 - a fraction of what John Wick 3 does in a single day - and will no doubt go on to be profitable when revenue is added to the kitty from digital/DVD sales, streaming and international TV distribution deals. This is a good alternative model to the traditional path.

If you are interested in seeing Play the Flute, you can check the film's website to see where it will be playing or learn how you or your church can sponsor it. Here's the link.


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