Boxoffice Insider: Christian Music Tours Find Drive-In Success

Casting Crowns
Erika Goldring / Getty Images
– Casting Crowns
Casting Crowns, pictured performing at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Nov 6, 2019.

Christian music concert producer Awakening Events has submitted recent box office totals from a slate of shows as part of the promoter’s “Drive-In Theater Tour Series” playing regional American markets this summer. 

Rock band Casting Crowns heads up one of the featured tours, while another trek showcases veteran artists Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman and Mac Powell, former frontman of Third Day. TobyMac, also a headliner in the series, appeared in an earlier issue of Pollstar with the initial box office stats reported from his ongoing drive-in tour.
The first of the Casting Crowns dates was an opening night performance on July 15 in Fayetteville, Ark., at the 112 Drive-In. The theater hosted the band with a sellout crowd topping 1,500 for an evening performance. Tickets were sold per vehicle with a general admission rate of $80 allowing up to six people per car. A Gold Parking ticket of $175 gave attendees the best spaces closest to the stage and drive-in screen and also allowed up to six attendees. In total, tickets were sold for 280 vehicles at the Fayetteville event.
Following the tour opener, the band also played shows at the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa, Okla., on July 16, the Sandell Drive-In in Clarendon, Texas on July 18 and Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas on July 20. The combined headcount for all four shows surpassed 5,300 for a four-city gross of $170,010. The “Drive-In Theater Tour Series” with Casting Crowns is booked for a total of 28 performances this summer and continues through Sept. 10.
Casting Crowns toured extensively in 2019 in support of its November 2018 album Only Jesus and was scheduled to kick off a 2020 leg with Matthew West as support beginning in March. Only a handful of dates were completed before the industry shutdown, but during its first year on the road, the “Only Jesus Tour” racked up more than $9.4 million from 234,536 sold tickets at 62 performances from February to October.
Also last year, the band joined forces with Hillsong Worship and Elevation Worship for a U.S. arena run in November that racked up $8.7 million from 196,728 tickets at 17 sold-out concerts.
Awakening Events’ “Drive-In Theater Tour Series” with Christian music heavyweights Smith, Chapman and Powell debuted on July 16 at Stardust Drive-In Theatre in Watertown, Tenn., the first of 10 dates scheduled through the end of July. For the opening performance, tickets priced from $59 to $175 were sold for 253 vehicles at the theater, one of six in Tennessee scheduled on the trek. Attendance at the show topped 1,200 for a box office take of $39,795.
The second night of the run took the headliners to Athens, Tenn., for a July 17 performance at Swingin’ Midway Drive-In with attendance also in the 1,200 range. The third performance came on July 19 with more than 1,300 fans present at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre in Henderson, N.C. The three-show gross totaled $125,520 with tickets sold for 774 vehicles, while overall attendance landed just under the 4,000 mark.
Smith was booked this spring with his “35 Years of Friends Tour,” but the dates were ultimately postponed. The first leg of his tour last October and November included 22 shows in American theaters and churches. Chapman was to continue his “SCC Solo Tour” in 2020 after playing 43 shows early in 2019 as part of an ongoing, multiple-year road effort celebrating his 30-year career. Powell’s new band, post-Third Day, called Mac Powell & the Family Reunion played a series of 2019 headlining shows produced by Awakening Events from March to May.