In 2002 a small church in Albany, Georgia, began making films.
Alex Kendrick was an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church when he read that movies, television and the Internet are the three most influential factors in our culture. So he posed an idea to the lead pastor, “What would you think about making a low-budget film for our community?”
Alex knew nothing about making movies but he had a passion for telling stories and a determination to make an impact. With a budget of twenty thousand dollars and an all-volunteer cast and crew, he and his brother, Stephen, produced the movie Flywheel, a story that explores the integrity of ones commitment to God.
Through a lot of prayer, they managed to get it into their one local movie theater—one screen for one weekend. With no marketing budget to promote the film, it was only by the sheer grace of God that a local news station picked up the story. The movie sold out both nights so the theater manager invited them to show it again the following weekend. And the next, and the next. By the end of the run, the film had grossed thirty thousand dollars.
With the profits from the movie, they made DVDs and sold over a hundred thousand copies. Out of their church! Because of the film, their congregation flourished, more people came to Christ and they realized the impact the film had on the community. So they started praying for the next idea and came up with “facing fear through faith.”
With a budget of a hundred thousand dollars this time, they produced Facing the Giants and Alex set his sites on forty theaters across Georgia. But when he reached out to the cinemas, no one was interested. Meanwhile, they had sent a copy of the movie along with a music request to a company in Nashville. Provident Music not only allowed them to use the music, but also passed the film along to their parent company, Sony.
Through Sony’s theatrical distribution, Facing the Giants released in 2006 in not forty, but four hundred theaters across North America. It grossed double the expected five million dollars, then went on to sell two and half million DVDs.
Fast forward to the release of Fireproof in 2008, an award-winning movie about love and marriage, which grossed thirty-three million at the box office, the highest grossing independent film that year.
Their next movie, Courageous, released in 2011, ended up grossing even more than Fireproof and brought thousands of men to make the resolution to become spiritual leaders of their family.
The Kendrick brothers' fifth film, War Room, about the transformational role of prayer, released in 2015, grossed a stellar $11.4 million in its opening weekend and finished first at the box office in its second week despite it being in a third as many theaters as the other top film at the time.
Alex and Stephen Kendrick are humble men. They’ll be the first to admit they’re amateurs at making movies. The acting, the script, the overall production is mediocre at best but through a strong sense of purpose, a trust in prayer and a community of like-minded Christians, their films have touched millions of lives not only in the U.S. but around the globe.
The world is hungry for the type of faith messages found in their movies.
If you’ve read any of my recent author interviews, you know that I wrote my debut novel for the big screen. Since its release in February, I’ve been searching for a screenwriter and when I started researching Alex and Stephen Kendrick, I knew I’d found what I was looking for. So say a prayer, post a comment, or otherwise help spread the word, and God willing, Angel Beneath My Wheels will bring its own unique faith message of trust and virtue to moviegoers as another successful Kendrick Brothers production.
Have you touched anyone lately?
Check out Alex Kendrick’s story on this YouTube video.