It took MercyMe frontman Bart Millard only 10 minutes to write the song “I Can Only Imagine.” But behind that blockbuster hit song was a story that took a lifetime. And now that story is on the big screen–and once again finding a larger audience than anyone expected.

Roadside Attractions-Lionsgate’s film I Can Only Imagine soared past box office predictions to open with $17.1 million. Budgeted at just $7 million, the film had been expected expected to open somewhere between $2 million-$8 million.

I Can Only Imagine stars J. Michael Finley stars as Millard, with Dennis Quaid as his father. The film is directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin, who helmed 2015’s “Woodlawn” and 2014 “Mom’s Night Out.”

First recorded by MercyMe in 1999 and re-recorded and released in 2001, the single sold 2.5 million copies, making it the best-selling Christian single of all time. It jumped from one chart to the next, becoming a hit on country and pop radio.

Watch the movie trailer

Here’s the music video for the original song

About The Movie

It’s the song that brings ultimate hope to so many … often in the midst of life’s most challenging moments. Amazingly, the song was written in mere minutes by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard. In reality, those lyrics took a lifetime to craft.

Although he found faith at a young age, life wasn’t easy for Bart. He leaned into an active imagination and his love of music as escapes from a troubled home life. As he grew older, Bart turned to football in hopes of somehow connecting with his abusive father. But a career-ending injury—combined with the vision of a teacher who saw unlimited potential—set Bart on a musical pathway.

Chasing a dream while running from broken relationships with his father and Shannon, his childhood sweetheart, Bart hits the road in an old, decrepit tour bus with his new band MercyMe—named for his grandmother’s favorite expression. With the guidance of a grizzled music-industry insider, the band begins a journey none of them could ever have imagined.

Directed by the Erwin Brothers (October Baby, Moms’ Night Out, and Woodlawn), I CAN ONLY IMAGINE stars J. Michael Finley, Madeline Carroll, Trace Adkins, Priscilla Shirer, with Cloris Leachman and Dennis Quaid.

A gripping reminder of the power of forgiveness, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE beautifully illustrates that no one is ever too far from God’s love—or from an eternal home in Heaven.

Further reading:
How did ‘I Can Only Imagine’ become the biggest Christian hit ever (and inspire a movie)? (USA TODAY)
Faith-Based ‘I Can Only Imagine’ Soars With $17.1 Million Launch (Variety)
Bart Millard – His unimaginable (crazy) journey (CCM Magazine)

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