The hit Christian film “I Can Only Imagine” continues to defy Hollywood odds, adding hundreds of new locations in its third week of release and crossing the $55 million box office threshold.
Box Office Mojo reported “Imagine” remained in the top five in ticket sales in the rarefied company of the newly released Steven Spielberg film “Ready Player One”; “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony”; and “Black Panther.”
“Panther” — with domestic ticket sales of $652 million — is poised to topple “Jurassic World” and “Titanic” to become the third-highest domestic earning film of all time.
The Marvel movie took in $11.2 million over the weekend, while “Imagine” garnered $10.75 million and added 395 new theaters.
The Christian film surpassed “Tomb Raider’s” domestic tally of $51 million, despite the Warner Brother’s production being released a week earlier and having a $94 million budget. “Imagine” was made for $7 million.
“Imagine” tells the story of MercyMe frontman Bart Millard, and what led him to write the best selling Christian single of all time, for which the movie is titled.
Last week, Millard looked toward Easter weekend with great anticipation.
“Well it’s been 10 days since ‘I Can Only Imagine’ released in theaters, and I don’t really know what to say,” he tweeted. “It has far exceeded every possible expectation we’ve had. AND IT’S NOT OVER YET! Easter cometh! Let forgiveness take center stage all across the world.”
Well it's been 10 days since "I Can Only Imagine" released in theaters, and I don't really know what to say. It has far exceeded every possible expectation we've had. AND IT'S NOT OVER YET! Easter cometh! Let forgiveness take center stage all across the world.
— Bart Millard (@BartMillard) March 26, 2018
The faith-based drama is on track to pull in similar numbers at the box office as 2014’s “Heaven is for Real,” which took in $91 million in domestic box office sales and more than $100 million worldwide, Forbes reported.
“Imagine” looks at Millard’s childhood, marked by his parents divorcing and the boy experiencing years of abuse at the hand of his father. It goes on to show God’s hand in restoring father to son as they both experience a journey of faith.
Dennis Quaid, who plays the singer’s dad in the film, told CBN News getting into that character was not easy.
The veteran actor has portrayed his share of good guy fathers in the past in such films as “Soul Surfer” (2011), and two Disney movies, “The Rookie” (2002) and “The Parent Trap” (1998).
“I’ve played dads before many times,” Quaid said. “Most of my dads are like the ‘The Parent Trap’ dads … dream dads.”
In contrast Arthur Millard, Bart’s father, abused his son “emotionally, physically, and verbally every day during his childhood into his teen years. Most abusers, they were abused themselves.”
Bart Millard was on set during production of the movie, and knowing it was a true story, Quaid felt an obligation to get his portrayal of Arthur right.
“(W)e wanted to get it authentic for (Bart) more than anything else, so you have to go to these places (emotionally),” the performer said.
Millard wrote the song “I Can Only Imagine” for his father following his death from cancer.
The performer told CBN News during “Imagine’s” movie premier in Nashville that the filmmakers did an outstanding job capturing his story of pain, redemption and faith.
“The first time I saw it, it was really emotional,” he said. “I guess they did a good job because they stirred some emotions that I spent most of my life trying to bury.”
MercyMe released a new movie version of the song in February, which incorporates clips from the film.
As reported by The Western Journal, Christian/pop singer Amy Grant was originally on tap to sing I Can Only Imagine in the early 2000s, but she gave it back to Millard.
“I had actually recorded the song twice. But I was in a real transition in my own life. And nobody sings that song like Bart. Everything worked out the way it was meant to be,” she said.
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