Christian moviegoers flocked to the latest offering from a pair of filmmakers with a track record of good films, with I Can Only Imagine impressively beating its New Age rival at the box office last weekend.
The film is based off one of the most popular Christian songs of all time and retells the journey of songwriter Bart Millard – who is played by actor J. Michael Finley – as he forgives his once-abusive and alcoholic father (played by Dennis Quaid) after his life is miraculously transformed by a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
And now with its immediate success on the big screen, many critics are saying the movie is about the making of the classic.
The movie’s official trailer captures the significance of the life-changing song-turned-movie.
“It's an amazing song – just kinda happened,” the trailer explains while addressing the song and songwriter. “Took about 10 minutes, I guess. Bart, you didn't write this song in 10 minutes – it took a lifetime.”
The story of how a broken relationship between a father and son was healed drew moviegoers by the theatre-full – coming in third at the box office, despite being shown in the fewest theaters among the top 10.
It also took in $17 million – well above projections, according to public relations specialist, Gary Schneeberger.
Some projections thought the Christian film would only make $2 million, but it miraculously ended up making almost eight times that amount.
The inspirational movie was directed by John and Andy Irwin – the power-duo behind the 2015 hit, Woodlawn – and Schneeberger believes that movie lovers have not seen the last of them.
“These guys are seen as up and comers,” Schneeberger insisted. “When their names [are] attached to a project, people know it's going to be quality, and I think that helped almost an unprecedented blowing out of the water of what the industry thought this movie was going to do.”
By comparison, I Can Only Imagine out-earned the homosexual-themed movie Love, Simon by more than $5 million – despite being shown on 800 fewer screens.