Box Office: Christian Film 'Heaven Is for Real' Wins Wednesday With $3.7 Million

The drama, edging past "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," is the latest faith-based title to prosper at the U.S. box office.

Christian film Heaven Is for Real won the Wednesday box office race with a strong opening-day gross of $3.7 million from 2,417 theaters.

The TriStar movie -- nabbing an A CinemaScore overall, and an A+ among moviegoers under the age of 35 -- could gross north of $20 million by Easter Sunday, one of the top openings ever for a faith-based title.

Influential pastor T.D. Jakes, director Randall Wallace and Hollywood veteran Joe Roth teamed up to produce Heaven Is for Real, based on the real-life story of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, whose young son said he found himself in heaven during emergency surgery. The film is adapted from the pastor's book of the same name, co-written by Lynn Vincent.

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Greg Kinnear plays Burpo in the movie, which is launching in roughly 2,400 theaters. Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Jacob Vargas and Nancy Sorel also star. Connor Corum plays Colton, the pastor's son.

Heaven Is for Real is the latest in a string of recent faith-based movies prospering at the box office, including God's Not Dead.

According to those with access to Wednesday matinee returns, Heaven Is for Real was fueled by traditional faith-based markets, including many cities in the South, as well as in the Midwest and in rural California.

TriStar, a division of Sony, decided to open Heaven Is for Real midweek in order to get a jump on the holiday weekend. On Friday, three mainstream movies open nationwide: Johnny Depp sci-fi epic Transcendence, horror-comedy A Haunted House 2 and documentary Bears.

Transcendence, from Alcon Entertainment, may have trouble hitting $25 million in its domestic debut, meaning it could lose to holdovers Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Rio 2.

Coming in at No. 2 on Wednesday was Marvel and Disney's Captain America 2 with $3.5 million from 3,938 theaters. The blockbuster has now earned $170.6 million domestically.

Fox's Rio 2 placed No. 3 with roughly $3 million from 3,948 locations for a North American total of nearly $70 million.