‘Miracles From Heaven’ Uplifted as Minorities Join Box-Office Chorus

Sony’s faith-based tale starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah debuts with $15 million weekend — and Easter is on the way

Sony’s inspirational saga “Miracles From Heaven” debuted with an impressive $15 million at the box office this weekend. That beat projections from analysts and distributor Sony Pictures, and the $18.5 million it has grossed since opening on Wednesday has already topped its $13 million production budget.

It also received a rare “A+” CinemaScore from moviegoers and has already begun benefiting from that word of mouth. The $6.2 million that it grossed on Saturday was a 48 percent increase from Friday.

Those numbers might have sent hosannahs ringing through Sony’s Culver City, Calif., campus, but in fact the studio can thank the campaign run by marketing chief Josh Greenstein and his team. It targeted not only church groups, but also Hispanics and African-Americans, with a movie that delivers what it promised.

“Based on a true story,  “Miracles From Heaven” stars Jennifer Garner as Jennifer Beam, the mother of a 10-year-old Texas girl (Kylie Rogers) with an incurable disease. After a freak accident involving the girl, events begin to unfold, mystifying and ultimately inspiring the community. Queen Latifah and Mexican TV star Eugenio Derbez co-star.

“The goal was to connect with our core, of course, but also to expand into the mainstream, and I think we did that,” Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribtion chief, told TheWrap on Sunday.

Garner gave her first interview since her breakup with Ben Affleck to Vanity Fair and was seemingly everywhere on TV promoting the film.

Derbez starred in the Spanish-language hit “Instructions Not Included,” appeared on TV’s “Despierta America” and an hour-long “Sal y Pimenta” special, which may have helped with Latino audiences.  (The audience was 28 percent Hispanic.) Queen Latifah may have helped with African-Americans.

Those stars delivered more wattage than typically seen in faith-based movies.

“As bigger and bigger name actors jump on board with these types of films, the results will likely grow stronger,” said Paul Dergarabedian, comScore senior media analyst. “Certainly Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah and Eugenio Derbez had a lot to do with the solid showing of ‘Miracles’ this past week, and of course the perfect timing with Good Friday and Easter Sunday on the horizon.”

Additionally, this is the highest opening for a faith film since Sony Pictures’ “Heaven is for Real” debited to $22 million in 2014.

The “Miracles From Heaven” success cements Sony Pictures’ profile as the leader in faith-based films for wide audiences. The studio now owns 7 of the top 9 openings for faith-based films in the last five years and the top five since April 2014.

“Faith-based films have certainly become more of a mainstay of Hollywood output in the wake of the overall success of 2014’s so-called “Year of the Bible” in film,” Dergarabedian said. “Sony has done it again and shows that the studio has truly figured out how to make profitable movies for this still largely under-served audience.”