A Christian movie that’s based on a true story and stars Dennis Quaid has soared up the Netflix charts to No. 1 and won a major mainstream award in recent days, some five months after it was released in theaters.
The faith-based film The Hill hit No. 1 on Netflix’s Top 10 movie chart in late January and stood at No. 5 on Thursday, thrilling the cast and crew behind the movie, which launched in theaters in late August and on Netflix in January. It was No. 1 for at least six days on the chart, which changes regularly.
“No words! Netflix #1 movie in America! Crazy! Keep the thumbs up and we’ll stay awhile. Thank you all for your undying support!!,” director Jeff Celentano wrote on Instagram.
The Hill reached another major milestone on Jan. 27 when it won Best Family Feature Film at the Family Film and TV Awards, edging Barbie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. The awards show was broadcast on CBS.
The movie follows the true story of a young boy -- Rickey Hill -- who was born with a degenerative spinal disease but develops an uncanny ability to hit a baseball by practicing with a rock and stick, despite a limp. Hill faced bullying from classmates and opposition from his father, a Baptist minister, but grew up to play professional baseball. It stars Quaid (Blue Miracle, I Can Only Imagine) and Colin Ford (Walker, A Thousand Tomorrows) and was co-written by Angelo Pizzo, who is best known for writing Rudy (1993) and Hoosiers (1986).
“The way it’s touching people, and what it's doing to them has shocked me,” Celentano told ChristianHeadlines.
It took Celentano 17 years to get it made, he said.
“I read the script and bawled my eyes out and never looked back. It just got inside my soul. Like Rickey determined to play baseball, I was determined to get this movie made. And I had no choice. People were like, ‘Jeff, give it up, move on. It's taken you years.’ …I just fell in love with the story and this unbelievable resilience this little boy had who was crippled and ended up, you know, going to try out for the major leagues with everything against him.”
The movie is relatable, Celentano said.
“Every little boy and every town across America can relate to being bullied, made fun of,” he said. “...He just kept smiling. That's what got me -- like [he had] unconditional love for everybody. And his faith in God just carried him through.”
Hill said his determination “came naturally.”
“When you have to fight for the first few years of your life, you're fighting all the time -- walking and trying to do all those things. It just came built-in,” Hill told ChristianHeadlines. “And anything I wanted to do, I wanted to be the best at. It just came to me. God gave me the ability to have it. Also, my dad always said, ‘If God gives you the ability to have it, He'll take it away from you if you don't use it.’ And so therefore, I used it every way I could."
“...I was born with problems. I didn't let them take me down. I'm still here. I've still got the same faith. It's very powerful, very strong. I fought the fight and I kept the faith and I finished the course.”
The Hill is rated PG for thematic content, minor language and smoking throughout. Learn details here.
Image credit: ©Briarcliff Entertainment/Netflix
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.