A new release that drew raves from moviegoers but was derided as “spiritual propaganda” by the left-leaning Miami New Times has surprised its makers by earning the No. 4 slot for new releases.
“Because Of Grácia,” described as “a teen Rom-Com with a message,” came through its opening weekend with just under $2,000 per screen, taking the No. 4 slot for new releases behind “American Assassin,” “mother!” and “Brad’s Status.”
The film, opening on 32 screens, had especially strong numbers in working-class areas such as Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Chino Hills, California.
It features former “American Idol” contestant Moriah Peters.
The film’s promoter noted critics were sharply divided, with the Baptist Press complimenting its “big-league production values, resonant musical choices, incisive dialogue and sensitive performances.” The church news outlet said “it’s a message movie, for sure, but its makers know the golden rule of cinema – put the story first.'”
Schoolteacher-turned-director Tom Simes commented: “We’re thrilled with the response from fans across America. These are real stories that I dealt with from real students in the classroom during my years as a teacher. I’m blown away by this response.”
Distributor Margo Lange of ArtAffects Entertainment said: “We look forward to second week and beyond for this fascinating movie. Who knows how far it can go?”
The movie is pro-life, and deals with drugs, drinking and sex, but it’s a faith-friendly production suitable for the family.
The main characters of “Grácia” deal with teenage relationships (both emotional and physical), abortion, underage drinking, the debate over evolution and whether true “freedom of speech” exists in classrooms and the public square.
Grácia, played by Peters, is the new girl in school, and her instant popularity threatens the clique of already popular girls on campus. Something is different about Grácia – and these girls are going to discover it and use it against her, somehow.
Next we learn about Chase, a Christian afraid to reveal his faith to his classmates, even as he falls for Grácia, who seems to be the girl of his dreams. He hopes she is a Christian and is shocked into action when he fully discovers Grácia’s faith journey.
Bobbi is the most troubled teen in this story. She is a pastor’s daughter. She gets into a compromising relationship with a non-Christian that escalates into the crisis of abortion. Only Grácia’s friendship is able to bring about healing for Bobbi.
In the classroom, a debate teacher is unmasked when he begins to impose his worldview after Grácia challenges his contention that evolution is fact not theory.
And another excerpt: