Fireproof, the story of a firefighter who must work to save his marriage, has been an unexpected hit in the United States where it debuted at No. 4 at the box office and stayed in the top ten for its first three weeks, grossing nearly $17 million. The work Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the movie was made with a budget of just $500,000 and a cast of volunteers but with a lot of faith. The brothers, who are associate pastors at a Baptist church in Georgia, were looking for inspiration for a third film after the (also unexpected) success of their first two films, Flywheel and Facing the Giants.

Alex Kendrick said he prayed about it. “I said, ‘God, would you give me an idea that will impact all of our culture.” While he was out jogging and praying one day the idea came to him of a firefighter who, at work, lives by the mantra “never leave your partner behind”, but who is about to do just that in his personal life. His father challenges him not to give up on his marriage but to follow the 40-day programme in a book called The Love Dare. Prompted by repeated questions during production about whether the book really existed, the Kendricks prayed again and sat down to write it. “It was the hardest thing we’ve ever written,” Alex said in an interview, but also one of the most life-changing.” The Love Dare is now a best seller. Talking about the title of the film Alex Kendrick said, “It doesn’t mean when something is fireproof that fire will never come, but when fire comes, it can withstand it.”

The lead role in Fireproof is played by former teen idol Kirk Cameron, best known for the TV sitcom Growing Pains. Cameron, now 38 and with six kids after 17 years of marriage, said he is very aware of the challenges of marriage and wanted to be part of something that encourages people to fight for that union. “This is a movie that gives people hope and inspires them that they can save their marriages — that love, in the end, won’t fail if you pour your heart and your time and your energy into the things that really matter.”

Box office figures indicate that there are more Christians wanting to see good movies than there are people wanting to sneer at religious faith. The film Religulous, which opened two weeks ago, barely made it into the top 10 and after two weeks had grossed only $6.7m compared with Fireproof’s $13.6m. ~ AP/Google, October 10

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet