Overcomer opening in the Albany Herald

ALBANY — Affirm Films, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. company, and Provident Films is in the final stages of preparing for the release of “Overcomer,” a sports drama from The Kendrick Brothers that focuses on finding identity in Christ.

Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick, the creators of “War Room,” are set to release the new movie in 24 countries. Director Alex Kendrick once again returns in a leading role, along with Shari Rigby, Priscilla Shirer, Cameron Arnett and newcomer Aryn Wright-Thompson.

The film’s title inspired by 1 John 5:5, which reads, “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” “Overcomer” will be released across North America on Aug. 23.

Ahead of that date, several premieres are set in different cities — including in Atlanta on Thursday.

“The screenings have been very positive,” Alex Kendrick said. “We will be in 1,600-1,700 theaters and in 24 countries. (For the Aug. 23 release) we have a number of sellouts already, too.

“The biggest thing is the theme on identity. What you allow to define you is timely in this culture. Those are the questions we ask in the movie.”

A novel, which has already been released and made it onto best-seller lists, and a Bible study accompany the movie. Additionally, Shirer is preparing a book aimed at teen girls.

The study book, “Defined: Who God Says You Are,” is designed to walk the reader through how God made them uniquely.

“We don’t believe identity comes from (a person’s) circumstances or their job,” Alex Kendrick said. “The creator defines the creation.”

The Kendricks, working under Sherwood Pictures, also cretaed “Flywheel,” “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof” and “Courageous.”

“Overcomer” was produced on a $5 million budget, making it the largest of these films in terms of budget and set value. It was made with equipment, production values and sets comparable to what is used in major Hollywood blockbusters.

“The scope is bigger,” Alex Kendrick said. “The way it is shot, it is with the same equipment being used to shoot the Marvel movies. The actors do an amazing job. This is quickly becoming a favorite for us.”

Coach John Harrison, portrayed by Alex Kendrick, is a high school basketball coach whose state championship dreams are crushed when the largest manufacturing plant shuts down and hundreds of families leave town. Harrison questions how he and his family will face an uncertain future.

After reluctantly agreeing to coach cross country, Harrison and his wife meet Hannah Scott, a teenage athlete with asthma who lives with her grandmother while pushing her limits on a journey toward her own discovery.

“The Atlanta premiere will be packed,” Alex Kendrick said. “We (hope) the audience and the media are inspired by the film and spread the word when they leave. The cast and crew, most of them have not seen the film either. In a sense, it is a birth of the film.

“The pre-screenings have gone well. For the last 20 minutes, (some people) have been on their feet. We hope they leave with their heart full and perspective inspired. So far, that has happened, and I hope (that will continue).”

Stephen Kendrick served as the film’s producer, and the screenplay was written by both brothers. It was filmed last year primarily in Columbus, with some scenes shot in Albany and Nashville, Tenn. — much of it outdoors.

Tim Nicholson