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'Billy: The Early Years' falls flat in box office

(ABP) -- A biopic about evangelist Billy Graham hit theaters with a thud its opening weekend Oct. 10-12, earning far less than other religion-themed movies like Fireproof and Bill Maher's agnostic comedy documentary Religulous.

Billy: The Early Years, directed by former teen-heartthrob actor Robby Benson, grossed an estimated $199,938 from 282 locations, an average of $709 per screen, according to Variety.

Armie Hammer portrays evangelist Billy Graham in the new movie Billy: The Early Years. (Photo courtesty of Solex Productions)

Another specialty film geared toward Christian audiences, meanwhile, enjoyed a third successful weekend at the box office. Fireproof, produced by a movie-making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., grossed an estimated $3.2 million, bringing its total earnings to about $17 million. That's double the earnings of the last movie by Sherwood Pictures, Facing the Giants, in 2006.

Maher's Religulous, which takes a skeptical look at religion in general but is particularly hard on Christianity, fell 35 percent in its second weekend, but still managed to gross an estimated $2.2 million from 568 theaters. That brought the cumulative box office gross to $6.7 million.

Released by the Christian distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures, Billy: The Early Years focuses on Billy Graham's life as a teenager growing up on a farm in North Carolina. It continues through his young adulthood, when he burst onto the national scene as an evangelist who could draw thousands of people to his meetings, called “crusades.”

It stars Armie Hammer, the 22-year-old great-grandson of industrialist and philanthropist Armand Hammer, in his first major acting role.

 
 
 
 
 
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