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In struggling movie season, faith film 'War Room' surprises at box office
'War Room,' a movie about the power of prayer, came in second at the weekend box office, defying critics that shrug off Christian audiences. - photo by Chandra Johnson
In a summer dominated by marauding dinosaurs and superheroes, this month gave the movie industry a twist to its season: The success of a small, independent faith film.

"War Room," a film about the power of prayer and how it impacts the lives of the faithful, opened second in U.S. ticket sales its opening weekend behind recent release "Straight Outta Compton." According to Rentrak, while "War Room" was screened in far fewer theaters, it trailed "Compton" closely in sales netting $11 million compared to $13 million for "Compton."

Puzzling out the film's surprise showing, a Washington Post article speculated that audiences are responding more to movies the reflect their own deeply held beliefs.

"Some analysts said the popularity of 'War Room' shows the value of movies that affirm peoples view of the world," the Post reported. "The Christian audience, in particular, is large. About seven in 10 Americans identify as Christian."

The film was panned by critics, who argue that the purpose of film is to challenge the audience's worldview rather than echo it.

"'War Room' is a movie with a message, and that is a good thing," Huffington Post film critic Jackie K. Cooper wrote. "You can get the message in church; you need to be entertained at the movies."

"For all its good intentions, War Room, like so many films of its ilk, is strictly preaching to the choir," The Hollywood Reporter said in a review.

But not everyone thinks the critics are judging films like "War Room" fairly The Wrap applauded the film's success in the face of "critics who seem to have it in for faith movies."

"Critics may be justified in finding flaws in the production values, how the message is delivered and overall execution," Todd Cunningham wrote for The Wrap. "And audiences can be right on the money when they say the movie was exactly what theyd been looking for."
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