QUESTION. What type of low-budget films break-out as “Hits” and become profitable?

This an investigative report from Film Industry Analyst Stephen Follows and Founder of “The Numbers” website, Bruce Nash, answer that question. They began with a list of over 3,000 films from The Numbers’ financial database, investigating full financial details, including North American (i.e. “domestic”) and international box office, video sales and rentals, TV and ancillary revenue.

The studied feature films budgeted between $500k and $3 million, which generated at least $10 million in Producer’s Net Profit, using a standard distribution model where the distributor charges a 30% fee.

This produced a list of 63 films in total. They looked for common themes and found that the breakout hits broke down naturally into four types:

Model 1: Horror Flicks
Model 2: Documentaries
Model 3: Feel – Good Faith-based Films.
Model 4: Very High Quality Dramas

Since “The Adventures of Jubeez: Kid Boss” is a faith-based film we’ll focusing on the studies findings for that category. Here are the attributes of successful faith-based films.

  • Most Profitable Faith-Based Films: Fireproof (Earned $91 Million on $500K Budget), God’s Not Dead (Earned 95 Million on 1 Million Production Budget), War Room (Earned $115 Million on a $3 Million Production Budget), Courageous. (Earned 60 Million on 2 Million Budget)
  • MPAA Rating: Two-thirds were rated PG and the remaining third were PG-13.
  • Running Time: Fairly long, all were over 110 minutes and the average was two hours.
  • Professional Industry Critical Reviews: Incredibly poor, with an average Metascore of just 26 out of 100.
  • Audience / Consumer Reviews: An average IMDb rating of 6.3 out of 10.
  • Type of Release: An average of 1,273 theaters with the widest being War Room at 1,945 theaters.
  • Income Streams: 29% from theatrical, 55% from home video and 16% from TV and other ancillary income.
  • Income Location: 90% of income came from North American sources with just 10% coming from outside the US and Canada.

Two things stand out with faith-based films.

  1. They make virtually all of their money in the United States.
  2. They get VERY BAD reviews from mainstream movie reviewers.

The strength of these movies isn’t their quality; rather, it’s THE MESSAGE; these films deliver to an audience that is interested in what they have to say so it affirms their beliefs.

QUESTION. How good do faith-based films have to be … to be a “hit”?
“Good” is subjective. Therefore, below is a chart showing how general “targeted audiences” rated Christian movies vs. how industry critics reviewed the same films.













TAKEAWAYS from the film study regarding faith-based films hoping to make breakout hits:

  • “Niche” audiences are large enough to make for a very profitable market. The “faith-based” film audience stands out. Having a very clear idea of your audience is the first step to making a financially successful film.
  • Look for good actors, NOT big stars, and do the same with all of the technical crew on a film. Finding a good editor, cinematographer, production designer and other key members of the crew is more important for a low-budget film than blowing a big chunk of your budget on a famous actor or actress.

This was an abstract focused on research regarding faith-based independent films. To see the full article go to: