Just before landing her star-making role as Kate Pearson in NBC’s mega-hit “This Is Us,” Chrissy Metz was broker than the Ten Commandments, with exactly 81 cents to her name.
Fast-forward three years and Metz, now one of TV’s biggest stars, is making her big screen debut in “Breakthrough,” a faith-based movie about a fierce mother who practically wills her son back to life through the power of prayer.
“I really do believe in the power of prayer and the collective consciousness,” Metz told TheWrap. “Personally, it’s helped me navigate some really, really, really tough waters.”
“Breakthrough” tells the real-life story of John Smith, a 14-year-old from St. Charles, Missouri, who in 2015, fell through the ice of Lake St. Louis. He had been submerged in the freezing water for a full 15 minutes before EMTs were able to pull him out. Doctors at a nearby hospital tried to resuscitate him for nearly 45 minutes with no success.
It was only after his mother, Joyce, prayed out loud that his heart started again. Over the next few days, Smith surprised doctors by making a full recovery, as his family, friends and community continued to aggressively pray for him.
“It’s undeniable,” Metz said. “That’s what’s so great about this story is literally the doctors and the nurses, the EMTs, nobody has an explanation of how John Smith survived this drowning.”
Metz said she was able to relate to the story. Her mother suffered a stroke in recent years, leaving her with a language impairment.
“Honoring their story and honoring my mother was really important and I love feel-good movies and I want to bring hope and inspiration to people’s lives,” she said.
Faith-based films aren’t just feel-good movies, they’re good business. In 2014 “Son of God,” “God’s Not Dead,” “Heaven is For Real” and “When the Game Stands Tall,” made more than $242 million, according to Box Office Mojo. In 2015, “The War Room,” became the sixth-highest grossing Christian film of all time followed by 2016’s “Miracles From Heaven,” which grossed more than $6o million in the box office. In 2017, “The Shack” and “The Star” took in combined $98 million and in 2018, “I Can Only Imagine” soared with more than $83 million. And, of course, the mother of all faith-based movies, 2004’s “Passion of the Christ,” which raked in a whopping $370 million.
With Disney/Fox handling distribution, “Breakthrough,” which opens Wednesday, will have a larger release than most faith-based films. The studio plans to release the film on over 2,700 screens. By comparison, almost all films released by faith-based distributor Pure Flix have been released to a maximum of 1,400-1,600 screens. The exception was “God’s Not Dead 2,” which opened on 2,419 screens and grossed $20.7 million during its theatrical run.
The movie is produced by DeVon Franklin, who also produced “Miracles from Heaven” a 2016 Christian hit starring Jennifer Garner which grossed more than $61 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
“There is so much that we can really get bogged down with,” she said. “I think we need some good.”
Watch the full interview with Metz in the video above.
Jeremy Fuster contributed to this report.