Wow Lower Budget Faith-Based Film "I Can Only Imagine" beats Hollywood Features

The $7 million indie movie dramatically overperformed in its U.S. debut,  beating 'A Wrinkle in Time' and 'Love, Simon' . It tells the story behind the best-selling Christian song of all time . I Can Only Imagine dramatically overperformed in opening to $17.1 million from 1,629 theaters. On Monday, I Can Only Imagine earned an estimated $1.7 million, almost as much as Tomb Raider ($1.8 million), and not that far behind Black Panther ($2.2 million). On Friday, the movie will be playing in a total of 2,230 theaters. The film stars J. Michael Finley as the real-life Bart Millard, the lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe who wrote "I Can Only Imagine." The song recounts Millard's relationship with his once-abusive father, played in the film by by Dennis Quaid, and imagines what it would be like to be in heaven standing before God. "I Can Only Imagine" was first issued as a track on MercyMe's 1999 album, The Worship Project, then recorded for the 2001 album, Almost There. Audiences gave I Can Only Imagine with an A+ CinemaScore. 80 percent of the audience was over the age of 35. I Can Only Imagine scored the fourth-biggest domestic opening for a faith-based film behind Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million), Son of God ($25.6 million) and Heaven is for Real ($22.5 million). It was directed by faith-based filmmakers and brothers Andrew and Joe Erwin. Andrew Erwin explained, “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.” Stats from Hollywood Reporter