Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions’ latest faith-based movie “I Can Only Imagine” connected with moviegoers, coming in third-overall and beating out films like “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Love, Simon”. It’s rare for a faith-based movie to debut on the box-office Top Five list, and “I Can Only Imagine” might encourage other studios to consider adding a few screenplays to their 2018-19 lineup.

The Erwin Brothers faith-based family drama debuted as the top faith-based movie of 2018, bringing in an estimated $17M across 1,629 locations domestically. The film received a rare A+ CinemaScore with an audience that was 67% female and 80% over 35. Heading into the weekend, there were more than 130M combined views on the film’s trailers and marketing materials online, and the film has found success with commercials on Christian radio stations. Additionally, the “I Can Only Imagine” trailer was featured ahead of screenings of Lionsgate‘s box office hit “Wonder,” which grossed nearly $300 million worldwide.

“I Can Only Imagine” is the latest faith-based film from Lionsgate following breakout successes including double Oscar winner “Hacksaw Ridge” and “The Shack”. The film will be distributed through Lionsgate’s IDC joint venture in Latin America, where “The Shack” was a massive hit in Brazil.

“I Can Only Imagine” is the fourth feature for the Erwin Brothers, whose previous films included “October Baby,” “Moms’ Night Out” and “Woodlawn”. The screenplay was written by Jon Erwin & Brent McCorkle from a story by Jon Erwin & Brent McCorkle and Alex Cramer. “I Can Only Imagine” was produced by Kevin Downes, Cindy Bond, Daryl Lefever, Mickey Liddell, and Pete Shilaimon. Travis Mann, Tony Young, Scott Brickell and Simon Swart served as executive producers.

The film features an all-star cast including Golden-Globe nominee Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, The Rookie, Soul Surfer), Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman (The Iron Giant, The Last Picture Show, Young Frankenstein), platinum-selling country music legend Trace Adkins, author and actress Priscilla Shirer (War Room), Madeline Carroll (Mr. Poppers Penguins) and Broadway’s J. Michael Finley (“Les Miserables”).

Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen commented, “When we first saw this incredibly well-crafted, emotional and moving film, we jumped on the opportunity to work with the Erwins and their team and our partners at Lionsgate on I Can Only Imagine. And we were not disappointed. This is Roadside’s highest grossing opening ever! With the trifecta of the song’s double platinum crossover appeal, the Erwin brothers success with such films as Moms’ Night Out and Woodlawn plus world-class talent like Dennis Quaid on board, we felt that the film’s inspiring story of hope and forgiveness made for a very compelling collaboration. With an A+ Cinemascore, we expect I Can Only Imagine will continue to play solidly through the Easter holiday and well into Spring.”

“Howard, Eric, and the team at Roadside are incredibly talented and resourceful partners,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chair Joe Drake. “Their belief in this film, coupled with the vision of the filmmakers and our acquisition group’s ability to spot an amazing property, shows once again the vitality of the market for faith-based films.”

Producer Kevin Downes said, “We are so thankful to our amazing team and all the partners who worked so hard alongside us to get this story out.”

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.”

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