In its opening weekend at the box office, Jesus Revolution brought in $15.8 million as it played in 2,475 theaters.

The movie, based on the book Jesus Revolution by Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie, was the third-highest grossing movie in the country, right behind Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Cocaine Bear.

According to Focus on the Family’s Plugged In, the film’s opening exceeded expectations, as it was only expected to bring in somewhere between $6 to $7 million.

The Daily Citizen spoke with Plugged In Director Adam Holz about the movie. Here’s the first part of our Q and A with him.

Daily Citizen: Jesus Revolution covers some of what was happening in Christianity in Southern California during the late 60s and early 70s. Tell us a little about the story.

Adam Holz: Jesus Revolution tells the intersecting story of three prominent members of the Jesus movement in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Lonnie Frisbee is a hippie who’s grown weary of the counterculture’s failed promises and found Jesus.

Hitchhiking one day, Lonnie’s picked up by Janette Smith—the daughter of a struggling pastor named Chuck Smith. Chuck’s initially disdainful of Lonnie’s “hippie” ways, but soon sees that Lonnie deeply desires to help people know Jesus. Chuck invites Lonnie into his church, Calvary Chapel, where many more conservative members are aghast and leave. But the revival among primarily young, countercultural teens and young adults explodes.

Greg Laurie and his girlfriend, Cathe, are two of those who come to know Jesus through it. The story tells their interconnected tales and reminds us of the importance of loving and inviting in those who may superficially seem far from the kingdom of God.

DC: What do you think are some of the lasting results of the events portrayed in the film? How do you think the Jesus people movement impacted the church and the world?

Holz: I’m not a church historian, but some of those folks have said that the Jesus movement of the early ‘70s – which this story focuses on – was the last sweeping moment of revival in our country.

Among other lasting impacts, the movement was the incubator for a new expression of Christian music that would morph into what we would eventually call Contemporary Christian music in the 1980s.

I don’t want to overstate things with this comparison, but just as the Reformation challenged many traditional aspects of Catholicism, so this revival was a catalyst for some to re-examine their traditions and how those “old wineskins” might not have been the right containers for the “new wine” of this revival. Many participants saw the importance of looking past superficial, external things to the deeper spiritual currents at work in people’s hearts.

There’s also a clear emphasis on experiential, emotional and often guitar-centric worship that continues in congregations to this day. Virtually every stylistic element of how many evangelical churches “do worship” today can be traced back to cultural changes in the church that started here.

DC: The film is coming out right as we’re watching events at Asbury, where we’re seeing a deep move of God’s Spirit and presence affecting college students. These are students who are dealing with the after-effects of two years of COVID‑19 lockdowns, increased political and social divisions, and the negative effects of social media – depression, anxiety, alienation, loneliness and isolation.

Do you see any parallels between what’s happening at Asbury and what was happening 50 years ago in California?

Holz: I think there are parallels there, as well as broader cultural parallels. With regard to Asbury, we’re again seeing what seems to be a spontaneous movement of God’s Spirit to convict and renew primarily young people, drawing many to repentance and probably many to Him for the first time.

While you don’t have to be young, chronologically, to respond to God in this way, I suspect that revivals often appeal to the young because there’s a natural earnestness and longing to make sense of the world in that season that’s sometimes harder to tap into as we get older. It’s just easier for young people to make radical, life-shifting changes in values than it is for older people, and I don’t think that’s changed today.

As for the things we struggle with culturally today, certainly the epidemic of mental health issues has exploded. But the issues of isolation, anger and cultural division are remarkably similar to what we saw in 1970. In that sense, I think this is a terrific story for our particular cultural moment.

Stay tuned for part two of this interview; we’ll talk more with Plugged In’s Adam Holz about Jesus Revolution – what we can learn from it, the quality of the film, and some talking points for families to discuss.

Jesus Revolution features Jonathan Roumie, as Lonnie Frisbee, Kelsey Grammer, as Pastor Chuck Smith, Joel Cortney as Greg Laurie and Anna Grace Barlow as Cathe Martin.

Related articles and resources:

Plugged In:

Plugged In Review: ‘Jesus Revolution’

The Plugged In Show, Episode 170: A Look at the ‘Jesus Revolution’

Plugged In Talks to the Jesus Revolution Cast and Directors

Movie Monday: ‘Ant-Man’ Wins Second Straight Weekend, ‘Jesus Revolution’ Overperforms

Daily Citizen:

Calvary Chapel and Asbury University Chapel: Revival and Revolution Decades Apart

From Pompous Psychologist to Pastor Chuck Smith – the Many Roles of Kelsey Grammer


Photo from Plugged In.