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.