The Shack (2017 film)

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The Shack
The Shack (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStuart Hazeldine
Screenplay by
Based onThe Shack
by William Paul Young
Produced by
  • Gil Netter
  • Brad Cummings
CinematographyDeclan Quinn
Edited byWilliam Steinkamp
Music byAaron Zigman
Distributed byLionsgate[1]
Release date
  • March 3, 2017 (2017-03-03) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$96.9 million[1]

The Shack is a 2017 American Christian drama film directed by Stuart Hazeldine and written by John Fusco, Andrew Lanham and Destin Cretton, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by William P. Young.[4] The film stars Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Graham Greene, Radha Mitchell, Alice Braga, Sumire Matsubara, Aviv Alush, and Tim McGraw

Filming began on June 8, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The film was released in the United States on March 3, 2017, and grossed over $96 million worldwide. It received generally negative reviews from critics.


Mackenzie "Mack" Phillips suffered physical and emotional abuse as a child at the hands of his drunken father, who abused his mother as well. One day, Mack tells the preacher at his church of his abuse, and as punishment, his father harshly beats him, leading to Mack's mother's decision to leave them. As a 13-year-old boy he chose to poison his father with strychnine in his whisky. The film does not include any criminal consequences for his father's murder.

As an adult he has a fulfilling life with his wife, Nan, and their three children: Kate, Josh and Missy. Mack's life is shattered when their youngest child Missy disappears during a camping trip while he is saving Kate and Josh during a canoeing accident. The police determine Missy is the victim of a serial killer after finding her torn dress and blood in a derelict cabin in the forest (the titular "shack"). Kate blames herself for Missy's death because she caused the canoe accident in the first place.

The tragedy derails Mack's faith and life until the onset of winter when he receives an unstamped, typewritten note inviting him to meet at the shack. The message is signed "Papa" (which was Nan's nickname for God). Thinking this may possibly be an opportunity for meeting and punishing the serial killer, Mack takes his gun, borrows his friend's SUV, and drives there, narrowly avoiding a collision with a truck on the way. Finding the shack empty, an enraged Mack is tempted to shoot himself; before he can, he encounters a mysterious trio of strangers who invite him to stay at their house nearby.

The trio of strangers gradually reveal their identities: the African-American woman is God (Papa), the Middle-Eastern man is Jesus, and the Asian woman is the Holy Spirit. The purpose of their visit is to help Mack better understand his life as seen from a much broader context or higher perspective, the goal being to help free him from an inclination to pass judgment upon himself and others, and to help heal himself and his family after Missy's death.

Mack helps Jesus build a wooden box and helps the Holy Spirit prepare a spot in her garden for a planting. Papa—in the form of an elderly Native American man—leads him to the cave where Missy's body is located. Together they prepare her body for burial, place her in the box, and lay her to rest in the garden. Mack briefly sees Missy in Heaven, but is unable to be with her; Jesus steps through the boundary separating them to visit her. Mack also visits another cave where God's wisdom, in the form of a woman named Sophia, talks to him. Eventually, the trio and Mack encounter the spirit of Mack's father, who apologizes for his mistreatment of Mack and he reluctantly forgives him. Mack also apologizes to his father, whom he killed, and finally understands that Missy's death was not punishment for his murder of his father.

Finally able to move beyond his grief and his faith restored, he leaves the trio and sets out to return home to his family. However, he encounters the truck from before and collides with it, waking up in a hospital. The friend from whom he borrowed the SUV tells him he never reached the shack, having crashed on the way there.[a]



Forest Whitaker was once attached to direct and star in the film.[13]


Principal photography on the film began on June 8, 2015, in Vancouver, Canada.[14]

The camping scenes were filmed at Sunnyside campground in Cultus Lake, British Columbia, while the waterfall was filmed at Multnomah Falls, the Oregon site referenced in the source novel.[15]


Box office[edit]

The Shack grossed $57.4 million in the United States and Canada and $39.6 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $96.9 million.[1]

In North America, The Shack opened on March 3, 2017, alongside Before I Fall and Logan, and was projected to gross around $10 million from 2,888 theaters in its opening weekend.[16] It made $850,000 from Thursday night previews and $5.5 million on its first day. It went on to open to $16.1 million, finishing above expectations and third at the box office behind Logan and Get Out.[17] It dropped 38% in its second weekend, grossing $10 million and finishing 4th.[18]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 21% based on 72 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Shack's undeniably worthy message is ill-served by a script that confuses spiritual uplift with melodramatic clichés and heavy-handed sermonizing."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 32 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave an 85% overall positive score and a 70% "definite recommend".[17]

Peter Sobczynski of gave the film 1.5 stars out of 4, saying it is "both too innocuous and too off-putting for its own good".[21] Adam Graham of The Detroit News said it "feels like an overly long church sermon".[22] The A.V. Club said, "Most of its running time is taken with mollifying conversations between Mack and the movie's New Age-meets-Bible Belt oversimplifications of the Holy Trinity. It fits right into a long tradition of quasi-mystical pseudo-parables."[23]

Owen Glieberman from Variety said the following about the film: "'The Shack' has a real chance to connect commercially, because even though its drama is mushy, at heart it's a bit of a theme-park ride: the movie in which you get to know what it's like to hang out with God and make friends with Jesus. In life, religion isn't nearly so reassuring. It's daunting, and our culture is starved for films that portray religious feeling in a way that's both reverent and truthful. 'The Shack' isn't one of them; it reduces faith to a kind of spiritual comfort food. But thanks, in part, to movies like this one, maybe that's what faith is on its way to becoming."[24]

Conservative response[edit]

Conservative critics were more positive towards the film. Kathy Schiffer of the National Catholic Register wrote that "I watched The Shack not once, but twice. It was inspiring, beautifully portrayed, and thought-provoking. The love and humor and the sheer joy of the Trinity, bantering over the dinner table in the Shack, was heart-warming, and it made fresh my awareness of God's love for me."[25] Other conservative critics, such as Beliefnet's Wesley Baines, felt the film was successful because it resonated with the desires of its modern audience.[26]


Despite the positive response from conservative critics, the film attracted the same sort of controversy for unorthodox theology that the book did.[27] Theologian Albert Mohler said the film's depiction of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is "profoundly unbiblical".[27] John Mulderig of Catholic News Service said the film was "an intriguing endeavor" but had many problematic elements.[28] Catholic Bishop Robert Barron said about the book "There's a lot of sweet stuff – but you do have to spit out a few seeds."[29] New Testament scholar James B. DeYoung said the film promotes universalism, which he characterized as heresy.[30]


The Shack: Music From and Inspired By the Original Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedFebruary 24, 2017 (2017-02-24)
GenreCCM, Christian hip hop, Christian rock
ProducerKevin Weaver, Pete Ganbarg, Anastasia Brown

The accompanying soundtrack for the film features contributions from popular artists primarily in the genres of country music and contemporary Christian music.[31][32] It was released February 24, 2017 through Atlantic Records.[33]

A new duet between Tim McGraw and Faith Hill was written and recorded for the film titled "Keep Your Eyes On Me" which is featured in the trailer.[32] It was released digitally on January 27, 2017 as the soundtrack's first promotional single.[34] This release was followed by Dan + Shay's promotional track, "When I Pray for You", on February 3, 2017.[35] Christian rock band Skillet released an acoustic version of "Stars" from their album, Unleashed, in a music video for the film.[36]

Track listing[edit]

1."When I Pray for You"Dan + Shay3:29
2."Keep Your Eyes on Me"Tim McGraw and Faith Hill4:11
3."Lay Our Flowers Down"Lady Antebellum3:12
4."Heaven Knows"Hillsong UNITED4:44
5."Where Were You"Francesca Battistelli3:07
6."Love Goes On"Kelly Clarkson and Aloe Blacc3:54
7."River of Jordan"Lecrae featuring Breyan Isaac3:45
8."Hard Love"NEEDTOBREATHE featuring Lauren Daigle3:37
9."Days of Dark"Dierks Bentley4:13
10."Phone Call to God"Brett Eldredge3:57
11."Honest to God"Devin Dawson3:14
12."Stars (The Shack version)"Skillet3:45
13."I'll Think About You"We Are Messengers3:56
14."Amazing Grace"for KING & COUNTRY3:22


Chart (2017) Peak
US Billboard 200[37] 40
US Christian Albums (Billboard)[38] 1
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[38] 6


  1. ^ The ending differs from the book in that Mack does not lead the police to Missy's body, and they therefore do not find forensic evidence to identify and convict her killer.
  1. ^ a b c "The Shack (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Shack". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  3. ^ "Box Office: 'Logan' Slicing and Dicing Toward Year's Biggest Debut". Deadline Hollywood. March 2, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (November 5, 2014). "Faith-Based Bestseller 'The Shack' Film Finds Director In Stuart Hazeldine". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  5. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 30, 2015). "Sam Worthington to Star in 'The Shack' With Octavia Spencer (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 6, 2015). "Octavia Spencer to Play God in Lionsgate's Adaptation of 'The Shack' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  7. ^ Mettler, Katie (2016-12-21). "Why God is a curvy, black woman in 'The Shack' and some Christian critics say it's 'heresy'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  8. ^ a b c Busch, Anita (June 5, 2015). "'The Shack' Movie: Graham Greene & Others Join Cast Of Lionsgate's Faith-Based Pic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  9. ^ Luhar, Monica (22 October 2015). "'Finding My Way': Sumire Matsubara on Acting, Diversity, and Connecting with Her Roots". NBC News. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  10. ^ Shoji, Kaori (31 August 2017). "What works for Japanese actresses in the West may not work at home". The Japan Times. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  11. ^ Pedersen, Erik. "Sumire Matsubara Joins 'The Shack'; Trio Set For 'Amy Makes Three'; 'Tallulah' Rounds Out Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Sneider, Jeff (June 7, 2015). "Tim McGraw, Alice Braga Join Sam Worthington in Faith-Based Drama 'The Shack'". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 30, 2014). "Forest Whitaker Set to Write, Direct, Star in Adaptation of 'The Shack'". Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  14. ^ "On the Set for 6/8/15: Paul Feig & Melissa Mccarthy Start Shooting Ghostbusters, Ryan Reynolds Finishes Off Deadpool & More". June 8, 2015. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  15. ^ "Where was The Shack filmed? ~ Atlas of Wonders". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  16. ^ "'Logan' Looks To Roar $170M+ Around The World In First Weekend – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood.
  17. ^ a b "'Logan' Looks To Log Best R-Rated Opening In March With $81M+ Opening; Audiences Love 'Shack'", Deadline Hollywood, retrieved March 4, 2017
  18. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (March 12, 2017). "'Kong' Beats His Chest On Saturday: Weekend Opening Now At $61M – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Shack (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "The Shack Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  21. ^ Sobczynski, Peter. March 3, 2017,, "The Shack". Accessed July 10, 2017.
  22. ^ Graham, Adam. March 2, 2017, The Detroit Free Press, "Review: Grieving father visits God in shoddy 'Shack'". Accessed July 10, 2017.
  23. ^ The A.V. Club, March 2, 2017, "The Shack dares to ask, 'What if God were a character actor?'". Accessed July 10, 2017.
  24. ^ Owen Gleiberman (2017-03-02). "'The Shack' Review: Octavia Spencer Plays God in a Faith-Based Drama". Variety. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  25. ^ Kathy Schiffer (2017-02-25). "'The Shack' Movie Opens to Controversy". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  26. ^ "The Startling Success of The Shack". Beliefnet. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  27. ^ a b Diana Chandler. "'The Shack' film stirs debate as did preceding book". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  28. ^ "The Shack". 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  29. ^ Kathy Schiffer (2017-02-25). "'The Shack' Movie Opens to Controversy". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  30. ^ "Why God is a curvy, black woman in 'The Shack' and some Christian critics say it's 'heresy'". Chicago Tribune. 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  31. ^ Brickey, Kelly (January 27, 2017). "Dierks Bentley, Brett Eldredge Among Artists Featured on 'The Shack' Soundtrack". Sounds Like Nashville. SpinMedia. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  32. ^ a b Newman, Melinda (January 27, 2017). "Tim McGraw, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum, Skillet and More Contribute New Songs to 'The Shack' Soundtrack: Listen". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  33. ^ " The Shack: Music From and Inspired By the Original Motion Picture: Various artists: MP3 Downloads". Amazon Music. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  34. ^ "Keep Your Eyes on Me - Faith Hill, Tim McGraw | Release Info". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  35. ^ "When I Pray for You - Dan + Shay | Release Info". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  36. ^ skilletband (January 27, 2017), Skillet -"Stars" (The Shack Version) [Official Music Video], retrieved January 28, 2017
  37. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week of March 18, 2017". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  38. ^ a b Asker, Jim (March 9, 2017). "'The Shack' Premieres at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums Chart". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 15, 2017.

External links[edit]