Because of Grácia, a Box Office Surprise

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, garnering the #4 slot for new releases after American Assassin, mother! and Brad’s Status.Playing on 32 screens, the film had especially strong numbers in cities including 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.”

Although described as a teen romance, the film touches on a host of adult topics including abortion and teen pregnancy in a high school setting. The film made news with the casting of Peters, who was dismissed from American Idol after the judges criticized her for saving 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 ( about her experience as a teen mom.

Helmed by Canadian schoolteacher turned director Tom Simes, who recently wrote about his experience for (, 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…

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