Christian Film ‘I Can Only Imagine’ Delivers Another Inspirational Hollywood Success

The powers that be in Hollywood are learning that Christian movies can outpace secular projects despite lower budgets.

Hollywood invested huge sums and marketing resources into films such as “Love Simon” and edited God out of the high-budget “A Wrinkle in Time” starring Oprah. Those films are shown in more than 50 percent more theaters than the Christian-focused “I Can Only Imagine.”

However, those anti-Christian movie-backers in Hollywood are discovering that inspirational films like “I Can Only Imagine” captured the hearts and minds of spiritual people. They also turn a profit at the box office, unlike many expensive secular projects.

Despite a limited budget of $7 million, “I Can Only Imagine” became a profitable Hollywood film in just one week. And, box office sales topped $40 million in under two weeks.

The fanfare stems from the film reaching across religious and spiritual lines. “Imagine” builds on a heart-felt story about a strained father-son relationship. People that do not attend church regularly, or at all, can connect with the tough love aspects of the 110-minute motion picture as well as the song that became the top contemporary Christian single of all time.

The Christian Song That Made History

Inspired by the passing of lead singer Bart Millard’s father, the MercyMe rock band song “I Can Only Imagine” considers standing in front of God in Heaven. Often referred to as simply “Imagine,” the song was initially released on the band’s 1999 Christian rock album “The Worship Project.” It emerged as a popular song on Christian radio stations. After being remade as a single in 2001 and with a major label backing the music, it crossed over on to mainstream airwaves. It charted on the adult contemporary Top 40 in 2003 and 2004 en route to selling upwards of 2.5 million copies.

Millard recalls that two years after MercyMe released the 2001 version, a friend called saying it was being played on The Fitz Radio Program in Dallas.

“Someone dared them to play Imagine,” Millard reportedly said. “I turn on the station and all I hear is the DJ saying, ‘Stop calling and we’ll play it again.’ For the next three or four hours, all they played was Imagine, and people were calling in, saying how much it meant to them. It was No. 1 on their station for, like, six months, up there with 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and some J. Lo song.”

Millard recalls that the Christian hit singles was widely embraced following the 9/11 attacks.

“We heard a lot of people talking about losing loved ones and how 9/11 impacted them,” the lead singer reportedly said. “I think the biggest thing is, there’s no agenda. We’re not trying to shove the Bible down anybody’s throats. I’m asking the same question many people have wondered, whether you go to church or not, like, ‘OK, God, if this turns out to be real, if we die and we get (to heaven), how am I going to respond?’ There’s no answers in that song. It’s all questions.”

Nearly 17 years after the re-release and the 9/11 attacks, the faith-based feature film appears to be once again inspiring people and filling a spiritual void. The trailer went viral on Facebook, topping 47 million views. Movie co-director Andrew Erwin explains that much of the connection has to do with the singer’s father finding faith in God while battling cancer.

“It’s the best-selling Christian song ever, but when you talk to people about it, they go straight to talking about when they needed the song,” Erwin reportedly said.

Having Faith in Christian Movies

Film critics are calling the movie’s success a “surprise.” Adam Holz, from Focus on the Family says that word should be “retired.” Secular media seems to be missing the wave of faith-based films box office successes such as “God’s Not Dead ($64.7 million),” “The Shack” ($57.4 million), “Miracles From Heaven” ($61.7 million), “Son of God” ($59.7 million), “The Nativity Story” ($37.6 million) “The Passion of the Christ ($370.8 million) “Risen” ($36.9 million) and the recently released “Paul the Apostle” is already in the black.

That’s one of the reasons major movie producers such as Lionsgate are getting involved with projects such as “Imagine.” Faith-based movies tend to be less costly to produce and deliver steady box office profits.

But Christian films are delivering much more than money. The outpouring of spiritual films has resulted in community outreach, people returning to the fellowship of the church and a feeling of hope.

When Bart Millard was asked what the song delivered for everyday people, he reportedly said: “Unquestionably, a rush of hope.”

~ Christian Patriot Daily