Because of Grácia Box Office Surprise

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Strait-laced Teen Flick Starring American Idol Contestant Surprises With #4 Opening For New Films; Rom-Com With A Message Performs Well With Both Mainstream & Faith-Based Audiences For #10 Per screen Average

Because of Grácia, a teen Rom-Com with a message starring former American Idol contestant Moriah Peters, surprised box office watchers this weekend with estimated earnings of just under $2,000 per screen, earning it the #4 slot for new releases after American Assassin, mother! and Brad's Status. Playing on 32 screens, the film did especially strong numbers in working class areas like Allentown, PA and Chino Hills, CA.

Critics were sharply divided about the film with the Baptist Press noting its "big-league production values, resonant musical choices, incisive dialogue and sensitive performances," adding "it's a message movie, for sure, but its makers know the golden rule of cinema -- put the story first." Others weren't so kind with the Miami New Times labeling it "spiritual propaganda."

Although described as a teen romance, the film touches on a host of adult topics like abortion and teen pregnancy all in a high school setting. It made news with the casting of Peters who was thrown off of American Idol when the judges criticized her for wanting to save her first kiss for marriage, telling the aspiring singer to come back “after you’ve kissed a boy.” Peters went on to sign a recording contract and land the lead role in Gracia in which she plays a similarly minded teen.

The film also incorporates an abortion back story through one of the characters Bobbi, a high school student and pastor's daughter who contemplates terminating her pregnancy. That storyline led one of the film's Executive Producers, Angel Hatfield, to pen a piece (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/08/26/was-unwed-teen-and-had-to-tell-my-pastor-father-what-happened-next-was-incredible-shock.html) about her experience as a teen mom.

Helmed by Canadian schoolteacher turned director Tom Simes who recently wrote about his experience for TheWrap.com (http://www.thewrap.com/teaching-sex-ed-feature-film-because-of-gracia-tom-simes/), Because of Gracia is expected to expand in its second week. “We’re thrilled with the response from fans across America,” Simes commented. “These are real stories that I dealt with from real students in the classroom during my years as a teacher. I’m blown away by this response.”

“We’re pleased with this strong debut,” noted the film’s distributor, Margo Lange of ArtAffects Entertainment which also participated in the distribution of The Passion of The Christ. “We look forward to second week and beyond for this fascinating movie. Who knows how far it can go?"

About Because of Grácia: Because of Grácia (SERV Others/Five Stone Films) released in theaters nationwide on September 15th and stars American Idol’s Moriah Peters and Chris Massoglia. The movie portrays the lives of two high school couples as they explore friendship and dating along dissimilar lines that lead to courage and transformation for one teen and a personal crisis for another. To learn more about Because of Grácia, visit becauseofgracia.com or follow @BecauseOfGracia ‏on social media and participate in the conversation using #BecauseofGracia.

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Bethany Thompson
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