NASHVILLE (BP) -- The faith-based film "Overcomer" earned an A+ CinemaScore grade from moviegoers and opened in the Top 5 over the weekend, marking the fourth straight time a movie from filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick has debuted that high.
"Overcomer" grossed $8.14 million, landing it in third place behind "Angel Has Fallen" ($21.3 million) and "Good Boys" ($11.6 million) but ahead of "Hobbs and Shaw" ($8.068 million) and "The Lion King" ($8.065 million).
The popular film website BoxOfficeMojo.com said "Overcomer" had "outperformed all expectations." The site had predicted "Overcomer" would gross $5 million.
Filmmaker Alex Kendrick became only the second director to earn an A+ CinemaScore rating for three movies. His two previous films, "War Room" (2015) and "Courageous" (2011), also were rated A+. CinemaScore is an exit polling service that asks moviegoers, on opening night, to grade a film. Kendrick joins Rob Reiner, whose movies "The Princess Bride" (1987), "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) and "A Few Good Men" (1992) also were rated A+. (The list doesn't include co-directors.) Kendrick, though, is the only director with three consecutive A+ ratings. (Reiner's film "Misery," which came out in 1990, got an A- rating.)
About 85 films in movie history have earned an A+ CinemaScore grade.
"Overcomer has been an audience favorite from the beginning, even in our test screenings," said Rich Peluso, executive vice president of Sony's Affirm Films, which released the movie. "Alex and Stephen Kendrick understand how to connect to the heart of a viewer and that's one of the reasons they have been so successful."
"Overcomer" was the sixth film from the Kendricks and ranks third among their movies in opening weekend gross: behind "War Room" ($11.3 million) and "Courageous" ($9.1 million) and ahead of "Fireproof" ($6.8 million). All four of those films opened in the Top 5.
The Los Angeles Times labeled the opening "solid," while Box Office Pro called it "strong." The Hollywood Reporter said it "beat expectations."
"Overcomer" tells the story of a high school basketball coach who grows discouraged when the town's largest employer closes, forcing hundreds of families -- and his best players -- to move elsewhere. The principal then asks him to coach cross country, a sport he hates.
The film borrows themes from Ephesians 1-2 and spotlights the believer's identity in Christ. The movie's poster asks: "What do you allow to define you?" Producer Stephen Kendrick called it a "matter of the heart."
"Down deep in your heart, what do you believe to be true about who you are? And that actually is connected to what you believe to be true about who God is," Stephen Kendrick told Baptist Press. "... And when you disconnect God from your worldview, it's like turning off all the headlights and driving in the dark."
Stephen Kendrick said he is "praying" and "hoping" that Christians will "go on a journey studying and discovering who they are in Christ and what that means."
Michael Foust is a freelance writer who has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than a decade.