LOS ANGELES (BP) – The MercyMe faith biopic “I Can Only Imagine” continues to draw strong audiences nearly six weeks after its debut, grossing $79.4 million.
Featuring the story behind MercyMe’s crossover megahit of the same name – and starring J. Michael Findley, a Lebanon, Mo. native and the son of Heritage Baptist Church’s pastor of administration, Wayne Finley – I Can Only Imagine placed twelfth at the box office in its sixth weekend April 20-22, earning nearly $8 million and showing in 1,994 theaters, Box Office Mojo reported. Those numbers may seem modest, but the number of theaters hosting screenings is 300 more than on the movie’s opening weekend, a testament to the film’s staying power.
Roadside Attractions’ co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff told Baptist Press they are thrilled with the movie’s continued success.
“The Erwin Brothers (Jon and Andrew), Kevin Downes and the rest of the filmmaking team did an exceptional job,” the filmmakers said, “and with the support of the cast led by Dennis Quaid, the momentum continues going.”
The story of faith, redemption and forgiveness based on the life of MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard is “making an impact on hearts and culture,” promoter Provident Films said in advance of the latest weekend.
“We are in awe of how God is using the movie to impact people daily,” Provident Films said April 5. “Each show time in every theater presents an opportunity to share this movie about redemption and forgiveness with people in your world who are longing for hope.”
Tim Howe, a contributing writer for The Pathway and a high school friend of the younger Finley, wrote that those who wish to see “an explicit gospel presentation on the big screen will be disappointed,” but “those who love to see the power of Christ change lives will be thrilled. The movie forces the viewer to ask the question, what could possibly lead to this kind of change? It is a perfect film to invite your lost friends to see because it can (and should) easily turn to a gospel conversation.”
Co-directors Jon and Andrew Erwin used a budget of $7 million for the film, casting movie heavyweights Cloris Leachman and Quaid, featuring Broadway success J. Michael Finley as Millard, women’s ministry leader Priscilla Shirer as a key high school teacher who encouraged Millard, and country music star Trace Adkins as a music industry professional.
Former Southern Baptist Convention presidents Ronnie Floyd and Johnny Hunt are among faith leaders endorsing the film at ICanOnlyImagine.com, in addition to Harvest Ministries’ Greg Laurie. Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California and Hawaii, will present a Harvest Festival June 10 in Arlington, Texas, during Crossover evangelistic events in advance of the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas.
“I Can Only Imagine is one of the very best films I have ever seen,” Laurie said. “It will move you to tears and the message of it could change your life.”
MovieGuide and the Dove Foundation are among many groups who have favorably reviewed the PG film, which benefits from the popularity of the song that is the most-played radio single in Christian music history.
Foreign markets have grossed about $700,000 for the film since March 15 on screens in Australia, New Zealand and Russia, and in Colombia since March 29, Box Office Mojo said.