Screenings to religious orgs boosted word-of-mouth

IDP/Samuel Goldwyn Films’ “October Baby” became the latest faith-based film to impress at the box office, bowing to $1.7 million from just 390 Stateside engagements over the March 23-25 weekend, to crack the top 10.

The pic, about a young woman (newcomer Rachel Hendrix) who survived her mother’s attempt at an abortion, and goes in search of her, fed into a successful faith-based group-sales marketing cooperative.

Meyer Gottlieb, prexy of Samuel Goldwyn, tells Variety he feels such films are steered, more than non-secular pics, by word-of-mouth.

Goldwyn and Provident Films — the faith-based production label from Sony-BMG — screened “Baby” to more than 150 religious organizations, along with an extensive ministry outreach. Goldwyn handled domestic distribution on behalf of Provident, which has produced such previous faith-based hits as “Courageous,” “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants.”

From those earlier screenings, the two companies created a demand-style theater booking system whereby “action squads” in a particular area request the pic play at their local cinemas.

Gottlieb calls “Baby” a film that will appeal to all viewers. “You don’t have to be a part of the faith-based audience to enjoy this film,” he says.

“Baby” should continue to develop positive word-of-mouth from its target aud over the coming weeks; the film received a 94% fresh audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, even though critics have given it a 24% rating. “Baby” expands April 13 to nearly 600 U.S. locations.

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