Take that, Friedrich Nietzsche.
The biggest surprise this weekend at the box office was not the success of "Divergent," which was widely expected to be the far-and-away frontrunner (and was, with an estimated $55.0 million). Nor was it the weak opening of "Muppets Most Wanted" (debuting at No. 2, with an estimated $16.5 million). Rather, it was the movie that opened in fifth place, "God's Not Dead."
Unlike the two big-budget movies at the top, both of which opened on more than 3,200 screens, "God's Not Dead" was released by the small independent distributor Freestyle on just 780 screens, and yet the star-free picture (unless you count 1990s TV hunks Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain as big stars) earned an estimated $8.6 million, averaging a healthy $10,979 per screen. ("Divergent" averaged $14,228, while "Muppets" averaged just $5,170.) Most notably, "God's Not Dead" was an explicitly Christian-themed movie, of the sort that usually top out around $6 million over their entire theatrical run. »
- Gary Susman
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