|'Soul Surfer' has 'solid start' debut|
|Written by Eric Tiansay|
|Monday, 11 April 2011 02:27 PM America/New_York|
—the inspirational life story of surfer Bethany Hamilton, the Christian teen who had her left arm bitten off by a tiger shark—took fourth place in its debut weekend, grossing an estimated $11.1 million from 2,214 theaters, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Heavily marketed to the faith-based community, the movie—distributed by Sony Pictures' TriStar label and marketed by the studio's faith-based division Affirm Films and FilmDistrict—was made for $18 million.
"Audiences seemed enamored with Soul Surfer, giving it a rare A-plus," said the Los Angeles Times, referencing CinemaScore's moviegoer polling. "That means the film is off to a solid start, especially considering the teenage girls who propelled it to success are on spring break over the next few weeks."
The family film—which stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany; Dennis Quaid as her father, Tom; Helen Hunt as Bethany's mother, Cheri; and Carrie Underwood as church youth leader Sarah Hill—beat projections by $1 million for its theatrical debut, USA Today reported.
Soul Surfer earned recommendations from more than half of the nation's film critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com. The Orlando Sentinel noted that the film is "the best faith-based film ever made ... uplifting, entertaining and wonderfully acted."
Rated PG for an intense accident sequence and some thematic material, the film is based on Bethany's Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (MTV Books), which was sold in some Christian bookstores.
Several Christian-themed products are tied to the movie, including Soul Surfer: Movie Edition (MTV Books) and Devotions for the Soul Surfer (Thomas Nelson). Zondervan has published Rise Above: A 90-Day Devotional, Soul Surfer Bible and Ask Bethany: FAQs: Surfing, Faith and Friends.
Church resource organization Outreach has released four products, including Soul Surfer Church Kit; Soul Surfer DVD Study; Soul Surfer Study Guide; and Soul Surfer: Catching God's Wave for Your Life—a nonfiction book for preteens and teens. In June, Regal Books is publishing Raising a Soul Surfer by Cheri Hamilton—Bethany's mother.
Three Christian chains—LifeWay Christian Stores, Mardel Christian & Education and Berean Christian Stores—spotlighted Soul Surfer with promotions tied to the film's release.
Click here for more information on Soul Surfer. No date has been set yet for the DVD release.