The box office experienced a divine bump on Thursday as “Son of God” prevailed over “Non-Stop.”
The edited version of last year’s History channel miniseries “The Bible” opened to $1.2 million, proving that the faith-based community will indeed turn out if the marketing and the material is right.
In contrast, “Non-Stop” which finds Liam Neeson pitted against a mysterious hijacker, opened to $720,000. Universal Studios, which is releasing the film, said “Non-Stop’s” initial results compare favorably to Neeson’s other action thriller “The Grey,” which did $150,000 in its late night debut en route to a nearly $20 million opening weekend.
“Non-Stop” is projected to gross roughly $25 million in its debut, while “Son of God” was expected to bring in between $15 million to $20 million. In the case of “Son of God,” tracking was seen as an unreliable indicator because it captures frequent moviegoers, a constituency that does not always overlap with many of the religious groups that are making the film a hit.
“Son of God” dramatizes the life of Jesus from birth to death to resurrection. Fox is releasing the film, which is a brainchild of reality TV kingpin Mark Burnett. Critics have felt less than inspired by the experience, saddling the film with an earthbound 24 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. They’ve been kinder to “Non-Stop,” with the action thriller earning a 57 percent “rotten” rating on the critics aggregator.
The two films will square off against an extended and R-rated rerelease of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” and the third week of box office juggernaut “The Lego Movie.”