By Aaron Earls
I Can Only Imagine stunned the movie industry with its $17.1 million opening weekend, bringing in more than double the highest projections for the faith-based film.
Recent forecasts for the movie had been between $2 million and $8 million, according to Variety.
Audiences have raved about the film, based on the life of Bart Millard, lead singer of contemporary Christian band MercyMe, and his writing the hit song I Can Only Imagine.
“God’s hand has been on this song and on this story from the beginning,” said Andrew Erwin, co-director along with his brother Jon. “We are delighted to see a story about forgiveness and redemption connect with so many people.”
I Can Only Imagine is the fourth film for Andrew and Jon Erwin. Their previous films were October Baby, Mom’s Night Out, and Woodlawn.
“We set out to honor Bart Millard’s journey and the band’s amazing, life-changing song,” said Jon. “It’s our privilege to watch this film engage in such a powerful way with the audience.”
According to Box Office Mojo, the film had the seventh highest grossing opening weekend for a Christian film and sixth highest opening weekend for a music biopic, a biographical movie based on the life of a musician.
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, distributors of the film, were both ecstatic at the success of the film.
“When we first saw this incredibly well-crafted, emotional and moving film, we jumped at the opportunity to work with the Erwins and their team and our partners at Lionsgate on I Can Only Imagine,” said Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen.
“And we were not disappointed. This is Roadside’s highest grossing opening ever.”
Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chair Joe Drake said the success of I Can Only Imagine “shows once again the vitality of the market for faith-based films.”
A 2014 Lifeway Research survey found 56 percent of Americans agreed with the statement: “I wish there were more movies that reflect Christian values.”
I Can Only Imagine’s $17.1 million opening weekend placed it third at the box office.
The faith-based film trailed box office juggernaut Black Panther ($27 million) and the new release blockbuster action film Tomb Raider ($23.5 million).
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- Breakout ‘Black Panther’ Star Chose Christ Over Career
- Americans Want to See Movies With Christian Values
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.