The brothers Kendrick on set of "Courageous."
ALBANY, Ga. — Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the men whose film-making dream helped boost Sherwood Baptist Church and its movie arm, Sherwood Pictures, into theaters and homes around the world, are forming their own independent film studio.
"Kendrick Brothers Productions will be launching an independent movie production company designed to partner with believers across the nation and help train the next generation of Christian filmmakers. The Kendrick brothers plan to make their next movie under this new paradigm," a statement on the Kendricks' website says.
The brothers, under Sherwood Pictures, have produced four films: "Flywheel," "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof" and "Courageous."
The films have grossed millions and have been shown in theaters and homes around the world. The movies have also allowed church officials and producers to spin off a series of companion books and literature that has also proven successful. A book written by the Kendricks to accompany "Fireproof" is reported to have sold upwards of 4 million copies.
“God has been clearly speaking to us through His Word, in prayer, and through the counsel of our pastor and other Godly men. This decision has come out of a faith-step of obedience to God’s leading. We dearly love our pastor, Michael Catt, our executive pastor Jim McBride, and our church family. They have believed in us, prayed for us, and sacrificially supported us every step of the way. We see the wisdom of the Lord’s timing in all of this," the Kendricks' statement reads.
Sherwood Pastor Michael Catt said the film proceeds went largely to buy Legacy Park, a sprawling 82-acre multisport park in southwest Dougherty County.
While the figures remain largely speculative, a 2010 report by Lauren Green of Fox News stated that Sherwood Pictures' third film, "Fireproof," was done on a budget of roughly $500,000 but grossed, at the time of the report, more than $33 million worldwide.
A 2011 article by the Hollywood Reporter said that "Giants" took in $10.2 million. "Courageous," the article says, nearly topped that in its first 10 days in theaters. According to Box Office Mojo, "Courageous" has topped the $34 million mark.
But as the revenues have gone up, so have the costs.
Sherwood Pictures, through Sony Pictures, has spent more than $22 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter, on marketing "Giants," "Fireproof" and "Courageous." And despite the movie revenues, other parts of the church's ministry have reportedly struggled.
In October 2011, less than a month after "Courageous" was released, concerned parents contacted The Albany Herald after receiving word that the church's day care was closing Dec. 30, 2011.
Church officials released a statement saying that a mixture of increasing expenses and state regulations and decreasing revenues had prompted church officials to close the facility.
“For the past two years, the economy has caused a downturn in enrollment and that, along with the cost of increased regulations, has impacted the economic strength of Sherwood Baptist Church Day Care Center to the point that it is no longer a viable operation,” center director Merry Johnson said.
Church officials wouldn't comment on the Sherwood's financial stability, but a copy of the church's financial statement that was posted on a church bulletin showed that Sherwood, at that time, was operating at a $161,162 deficit, having received $3.3 million of its $3.5 million budget.
And yet the church seems to be bouncing back. In April 2012, Sherwood took ownership of the Coca-Cola bottling plant on Pine Avenue with hopes of converting it into a resource for a local ministry. Before Christimas, the plant became the drop-off site for Operation Christmas Child donation boxes.
Just this week, Sherwood officials broke ground on a new, $25 million expansion of the church's Whispering Pines Road campus. Catt told The Herald that $1.7 million had been donated by parishioners with Sherwood Pictures donating another $1.7 million.
The decision by the Kendricks to part professionally from Sherwood Pictures likely won't impact the organization itself, church leaders said Tuesday.
"Jim and I are blessed to call Alex and Stephen our friends and co-laborers for the gospel. They will continue to live in Albany and be an active part of the ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church. We love these guys and are grateful to God for sending them to our staff over a decade ago. No matter what lies ahead, this has been an incredible ride for all of us. Our prayers are with them as they pursue future endeavors," Catt said in a statement to the media.
"Our church mission is to reach the next generation and to impact this world for Christ. This is a multifaceted ministry. Movies are just one aspect of that vision. It would not be fair to this church family or to our vision to say movies are all we do or all we are about. That would limit the scope of what this church family is committed to. We continue to look for multiple ways to think outside the box, dream big dreams and make a difference."