For Greater Glory cracks top 10 in limited release

posted at 3:21 pm on June 5, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The Not-So-Little Movie That Could? For Greater Glory, a film about the little-known Cristero War in Mexico that killed nearly 100,000 people, went into limited release last weekend as part of a word-of-mouth strategy.  Despite only appearing on less than 800 screens nationwide, the film finished in the top 10 for box office:

The movie Hollywood wouldn’t make, a historical drama about the struggle for religious freedom, debuted in the top 10 in its opening weekend, beating out “The Hunger Games.”

“For Greater Glory,” a movie about Mexican freedom fighters rebelling against a president who sought to crush the Catholic Church by outlawing mass and murdering and expelling priests, cracked the top 10 grossing movies.

In a top 10 dominated by light fare ranging from a “Men In Black” sequel to a new “Snow White” movie, “For Greater Glory” shows that thoughtful, pro-religious freedom, pro-Christian, historical dramas can attract viewers.

It took in the tenth highest weekend gross despite showing in only a little over half the number of theaters of any other film in the top 10. It was the only movie in the top 10 that was not shown in at least 1,000 theaters nationally (757, compared to the next-lowest theater count of 1,294 and the 2,500-4,300 enjoyed by other top-grossers).

It was an impressive performance, especially given the competition.  This was the second weekend of the summer blockbuster season, and it faced stiff competition from the MIB3 and Snow White releases, as well the continuing play of Marvel’s The Avengers and Battleship.  The per-screen average for For Greater Glory outperformed some of the other top 10 films, too; at $2,491, it came in sixth among the top 20 films, excepting an anomalous performance by Moonrise Kingdom in 16 theaters.  FGG actually beat Battleship and the Sasha Baron Cohen film The Dictator in per-screen performance.  (It beat The Hunger Games, too, but that film is also in its 11th week of release.)

That kind of performance is likely to give the film some legs and result in a wider release.  That would be helpful in Minnesota, where the number of options for seeing the film this weekend were somewhat limited.  We’ve seen the rough cut but want to get out to the theater to see the release, and we’re hoping to have that opportunity this week.  At least my question of last week has been answered: the critics have not buried For Greater Glory, and neither have the blockbusters.  Make sure to see for yourselves this week why.

Update: Mad St. Jack tells me that Act of Valor has its Blu-Ray and DVD release today.  I’ve ordered my copy — be sure to buy yours.  Here is my review of Act of Valor, and for fun here’s my review of For Greater Glory, too.


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I really want to see this film…

OmahaConservative on June 5, 2012 at 3:24 PM

I’ll have to check this one out.

One of my favorite parts of The Avengers was the politically accurate “We have to get the Avengers to pay for this”, was a D-NY congressman.

kirkill on June 5, 2012 at 3:32 PM

The only thing Hollywood hates, more than they love making money, is Christianity. Auntentic Christian movies always make money but are nearly impossible to get green-lighted. And they wonder why Hollywood is reviled.

AmeriCuda on June 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Relics from six priests murdered during the Cristero War were at the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio last weekend:

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/religion/2012/05/rare-relics-of-cristero-war-martyrs-at-cathedral-this-weekend/

NoDonkey on June 5, 2012 at 3:34 PM

We saw the film this weekend. There are few “A-list” stars, fewer explosions, and no discernible CGI. That said, this was a film with heart and passion. Andy Garcia plays the rebel leader with a palpable strength. Yes there are some obvious heart-string tuggers, but the fact remains that this is history that we are at great risk of reliving. Two thumbs up!

Spike72AFA on June 5, 2012 at 3:36 PM

The only thing Hollywood hates, more than they love making money, is Christianity. Auntentic Christian movies always make money but are nearly impossible to get green-lighted. And they wonder why Hollywood is reviled.

AmeriCuda on June 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM

…I actually get ‘great joy’ when these kind of films do well…despite the roadblocks.

KOOLAID2 on June 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

It is a movie for our time…in a host of ways. The Church was very close to the government and then the government turned on the Church….sound familiar?

JFKY on June 5, 2012 at 3:43 PM

When does the conservative or conservative wing of the Hollywood get going? Movies like Act of Valor and For Greater Glory don’t have to made in Hollywood or by Hollywood people. Or does Hollywood control distribution and that’s the problem?

Oil Can on June 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM

I went to see it yesterday. There were only about 10 of us in the theater but it was the Monday matinee. My bishop here has talked about how his father was one of the refugees who came to the US from that episode in Mexican history, so I would hope there would be some interest in this movie. But the bishop must really feel conflicted, loving Obama as he does. My husband is known in the cathedral here for having lectured him on the 10th Amendment…

Eren on June 5, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Although not every performance is great, overall the film is amazing. Seeing the old pictures of the real Cristero fighters and supporters (these are shown at the end of the film) is also a very moving, eerie experience. Go see this movie.

ansonia on June 5, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Nobody will remember Avengers or Battleship in a couple of years and hardly anyone will buy their DVDs, but movies like

For Greater Glory

have appeal that may last for decades.

Archivarix on June 5, 2012 at 3:49 PM

I saw the film last week and was moved and inspired. It left me doing some hard thinking about how I have to be willing to sacrifice and to stand up for my religious freedom in whatever way I can. I found myself in tear several times. I highly recommend the movie, but I wouldn’t take a child any younger than 13 because of the violence.

lukjuj on June 5, 2012 at 3:50 PM

While I applaud the individuals who made this movie, honestly I wasn’t very impressed. The dialogue was pretty pathetic in my humble opinion. And the acting was lackluster (again IMHO). Even if the dialogue was ridiculous a good actor should still be able to pull off an impressive reading. Consider Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments. He makes the corniest lines sound like poetry. It’s cool that religious movies are made, but I still want them to be good.

On a side note, everytime I saw Peter O’Toole I wanted to shout at the screen, “NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!”

Goldenavatar on June 5, 2012 at 3:53 PM

OMG! But, like, it totally doesn’t have Kristen Stewart in it. /

nico on June 5, 2012 at 3:56 PM

it came in sixth

This should be the headline, Ed. Per-screen is all that matters with a limited release.

btw, just watched Machine Gun Preacher last night. Excellent.

John the Libertarian on June 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM

…this is history that we are at great risk of reliving. Spike72AFA on June 5, 2012 at 3:36 PM

“After the passage of legislation that enabled Civil Unions in Illinois, his eminence stated, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” -Francis Eugene George O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago

Akzed on June 5, 2012 at 4:03 PM

It is a movie for our time…in a host of ways. The Church was very close to the government and then the government turned on the Church….sound familiar? JFKY on June 5, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Huh. So how is the Church very close to the Obooba Administration? I understand the “turned on the Church” part but not the “very close” part.

Akzed on June 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Huh. So how is the Church very close to the Obooba Administration? I understand the “turned on the Church” part but not the “very close” part.

Then you must have missed the Church’s support for ObamaCare-even if not this EXACT version, it’s opposition to Welfare Reform and its generally socially liberal/social justice orientation for the last 50-70 years.

JFKY on June 5, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Sadly, most of these low budget Christian movies AREN’T very good (stilted acting, dialogue etc.)and yet the hunger for movies that respect faith and ‘goodness’ is so great that people will go nonetheless. There is a HUGE market for quality movies of this nature but A list talent won’t risk going near it. It just shows how backward and corrupt our culture has become. Lucky for me, my four favorite series at the moment (Game of Thrones/ Justified/ Downton Abbey/Boardwalk Empire) are tolerable in regard to respecting faith.

AmeriCuda on June 5, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I saw the movie last weekend. It is only in a few theaters here, but they were pretty full. Great movie.

simkeith on June 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Although James Horner’s intrusive score nearly drove me nuts, the production values and most of the performances of this modestly-budgeted film are first-rate. (Big surprise: Ruben Blades as President Calles.) The forgotten slice of history it presents, and the issues it raises, alone make it worth seeing. It is about something that matters.

But I think the film suffers from a script that isn’t quite sure what story it is telling. It veers between a biographical portrait of General Gorostieta, some heroic episodes of La Cristiada and a Catholic martyrology, which it has trouble unifying into a coherent, compelling whole. Consequently the film seemed uneven, too disjointed and episodic (with way too many “moments” which James Horner’s score never fails to emphasize), interspersed with some tremendously compelling and moving scenes, that never quite add up to a satisfying or cathartic conclusion. Another “intimate epic” which had the same problem, Lawrence of Arabia, did this much better (but then, also, on a much grander scale and an exponentially-larger budget, for its time).

This narrative unevenness is reflected in the stylistic unevenness of some of the scenes’ direction: the film’s introduction of one the guerrilla leaders, El Quatorce, comes straight out of a Sergio Leone western (and Horner’s lush orchestral score suddenly goes Spanish guitar), while the extended torture and death of a young martyr, right down to his bloodied feet hobbling over stone pavement, is the stuff of Mel Gibson’s Passion. But the scenes stay with you, as does the film.

This film is about something, several things, which makes it important. Films like these need to be encouraged. Go see it.

de rigueur on June 5, 2012 at 5:24 PM

/snipped/…Lucky for me, my four favorite series at the moment (Game of Thrones/ Justified/ Downton Abbey/Boardwalk Empire) are tolerable in regard to respecting faith.

AmeriCuda on June 5, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Aren’t ALL of those shows on HBO (Helping Barack Obama), the network that put up the cash to slander Palin in Game Change?!

You are supporting the enemy in this cultural war.

ornery_independent on June 5, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Did China approve this?

JellyToast on June 5, 2012 at 6:22 PM

umm, no thanks. Eva “they moved the border, we didn’t cross it” Longoria will never get any of my hard earned money..

thedevilinside on June 5, 2012 at 8:31 PM

As a technical note, the movie is in Wide Release. In the US, wide release is considered 600 or more theaters.

Just to let you know, the headline is incorrect.

Theophile on June 5, 2012 at 9:23 PM

I took my son to see the film last evening. As it turned out, we had a “private showing”. And not because I bought out the entire theatre.

The film was “O.K.”. Like another commenter, I also found some of the dialogue amateurish/corny. For the most part the acting and overall production is good.

It does accomplish its goal of introducing, perhaps to most of us, the history that we were not previously aware of. And for those that want to see it, it illustrates government intervention into religious practice.

It’s too bad that in order to put enough moving parts into one film, history has to be modified by forcing characters to cross paths that never actually did in reality. However, it certainly is not the first film to have taken those theatrical liberties.

Carnac on June 6, 2012 at 10:12 AM