When God’s Not Dead came out two years ago, it really was a phenomenon. That’s not to say the movie was any good, but it certainly found an audience that wanted to see it and talk about it, even if that meant trashing it. Call it the evangelical version of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Here’s the most important data: With a budget of $2 million, God’s Not Dead went on to make more than $60 million by the end of its run. No wonder the filmmakers wanted to make a sequel.
So how did God’s Not Dead 2 do, compared to its predecessor?
The movie earned $8.1 million in its opening weekend… which may sound impressive until you realize all the caveats.
The original God’s Not Dead earned a slightly higher $9.2 million on its opening weekend. And it did that in only 780 theaters. The sequel, on the other hand, was in an astounding 2419 theaters this weekend. If you do the opening weekend math, that means the original earned a little less than $4,000 per theater per day, while the sequel only made a little over $1,000 by the same metric.
In other words, it’s not doing nearly as well as the original.
The original film also had durability. It was in theaters from late March through early August because people were still going to watch it.
If theaters aren’t making money on the sequel now, odds are they’ll bump it for a newer movie relatively soon. But that remains to be seen.
What about the reviews? Well, it’s not like the shitty reviews for the original film (15% on Rotten Tomatoes) hampered its success — hell, it just fed into the whole Christian persecution narrative. The new film has a 14% rating, but whatever novelty the first one had is lost this time around.
Perhaps the only upside is that the budget for the sequel was a reported $5 million. So the producers will at least recoup their costs and then some.
And if they’re making money on this, you can bet someone’s hunched over a computer as we speak cranking out the script for God’s Not Dead 3. I’m guessing that one will be all about an atheist suing a Christian who says “Bless you” after someone sneezes.