The newly released movie, “I Can Only Imagine,” has had a massive opening weekend, taking home $17.1 million at 1,629 locations in North America. Along with the cash, the reviews are also flooding in – and they are overwhelmingly positive. The movie, directed by Andrew and John Erwin, tells the powerful story of Bart Millard, the MercyMe lead singer and man behind the best-selling Christian single of all time, “I Can Only Imagine.”
“So much of Millard’s story is simultaneously relatable and optimistic that the movie works for the same reason the song does: It lightens the burden of the pain people are shouldering today, and gives them something to look forward to,” wrote Peter Debruge at Variety.
WOW! Congratulations to I Can Only Imagine for your A+ #CinemaScore grade! Audiences loved it. www.cinemascore.com
“The Erwins pound home their message, but they do with such skill and accomplished filmmaking the movie never becomes heavy-handed or too preachy,” wrote James Ward at the Arizona Republic. As to be expected, not all the reviewers were so positive. “Like so many faith-based efforts, I Can Only Imagine suffers from a terminal case of self-importance,” critiqued Frank Scheck at the Hollywood Reporter.
I've heard from several people that I Can Only Imagine is a very good faith based film. Of course the critics hate it because they hate anything that portrays Christianity in a remotely favorable light.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 18, 2018
MercyMe frontman Bart Millard is played by J. Michael Finley, while the singer’s abusive Father, Arthur, is portrayed by Dennis Quaid, who also featured in 2011 Christian movie “Soul Surfer.”
Just saw “I can only Imagine”. What a powerful story of forgiveness.
— Michael Welch (@Welchamm) March 16, 2018
As Faithwire previously reported, Quaid has strong Christian roots. “I grew up in the Baptist church, went to Sunday school and then got baptized when I was 9,” he said in a recent video clip. “I read the Bible cover to cover.”
Faithwire recently caught up with Millard to chat all about the new movie:
MercyMe Music singer Bart Millard is here to talk "I Can Only Imagine" and plenty more!Get more from the interview in our newsletter: http://faithwire.com/newsletter
Posted by Faithwire on Monday, March 12, 2018
Millard could not believe that their song, released all the way back in 1999, would spark the release of a blockbuster movie almost two decades later. “I knew it was special to me but had no idea about anything it was going to do,” Millard told Faithwire. “It changed our career forever.”
So how accurate is the movie in comparison to Bart’s incredible life story?
“About as close as you can get putting 25 years of your life into an hour and 55 minutes,” Millard said, who explained that some of the small and insignificant details have been altered – or been “Hollywood-ed up”, as the singer put it.
Still, the gritty reality of Millard’s childhood was powerfully depicted. Millard’s Father was incredibly violent and abusive until he met Christ as he was dying of cancer. “I didn’t want it to be a kinda fluffy, faith-based film if you will,” Millard explained to Faithwire. “I knew we were onto something when with the Erwin’s we had a conversation that was like ‘we’ve got to make sure it’s not R-rated,'” Millard laughed. “You can’t appreciate the redemption story without knowing how much of a monster he was.”
“I Can Only Imagine” was hands down the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. I’d recommend it to everyone…Christian or not
— Joshua Allmon (@joshua_allmon) March 17, 2018
“If you would ask me ‘who is the one person God couldn’t reach?’ I would have said my Dad a hundred times out of a hundred. But here we are, this crazy redemption story.”
“As long as our heart’s beating, there is always reason to hope. No-one’s out of the reach of Christ.”