Faith-based movie inspired by popular Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine” has crushed early box office forecasts with a surprisingly strong $17.1 million opening at 1,629 locations in North America.
Released on March 16, 2018, recent estimates for “I Can Only Imagine” had been in the $2 million-$8 million range.
Hitting #3 at the domestic box-office, the first faith-based movie of 2018 distributed by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, received a rare A+ CinemaScore with an audience that was 67% female and 80% over 35.
“I Can Only Imagine” was budgeted at just $7 million, and tells the story of Bart Millard, the leader of Christian rock group MercyMe – and his conception of the best-selling multiplatinum Christian single of all time.
Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen told local USA media that the distributor began to get a sense in recent weeks that “I Can Only Imagine” would over-perform, thanks to $1.6 million in pre-sales and 130 million trailer views.
Cohen said, “I Can Only Imagine” benefited from grass roots support from churches and groups as well as from from MercyMe, who have been helping promote the film on social media.
“We knew that it was going to do well but we never expected a $17 million opening,” Cohen admitted. “We’re planning to be on well over 2,000 screens next weekend.”
Andrew Erwin, co-director & co-editor added, “God’s hand has been on this song and on this story from the beginning. We are delighted to see a story about forgiveness and redemption connect with so many people. We are humbled for the privilege of telling Bart’s story.”
Jon Erwin, co-director & co-screenwriter said, “We are amazed and humbled to see the response to this story. We set out to honor Bart Millard’s journey and the band’s amazing, life-changing song. It’s our privilege to watch this film engage in such a powerful way with the audience.”
Meanwhile, reports show that Sony will open “Paul, Apostle of Christ” on March 23, while Pureflix’s threequel “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness” will debut March 30, the start of Easter weekend.
The first two “God’s Not Dead” movies grossed a total of $81.5 million. Lionsgate’s “The Shack” was the top faith-themed film of 2017, with $57 million at the domestic box office after its March 3 debut.