Perhaps Christians films should no longer be referred to as “surprise” hits.
Time and time again, Christian based films have hit theaters and grossed huge profits, yet Hollywood continues to treat them as second class citizens. Over the past couple of years, the rise of faith-based films has been both impressive and expansive.
The most recent film, “I Can Only Imagine,” grossed $17.1 million in its opening weekend alone and now has a staggering total domestic gross of nearly $80 million, despite only costing $7 million to make. The film was based on the true story behind the song I Can Only Imagine by the Christian band MercyMe.
The movie details the true story behind Bart Millard, the lead singer of the bands, redemptive relationship with his father. His relationship with his troubled father was the motivation and inspiration behind the hit song I Can Only Imagine.
The song is the number one played radio single in Christian music and tells the sweet story of redemption. The song beautifully points out that no one is too far gone to experience the grace of God.
“My dad was a monster, and I saw God transform him,” J. Michael Finley, who plays Millard in the movie, says in the trailer.
The Christian Film Review wrote of the movie:
“I Can Only Imagine is an extremely powerful movie of forgiveness. The story behind the song really brings across the real life changing message of forgiveness, hope and redemption that only Jesus can offer. This powerful testimony of the song that brought hope to millions, will bring again hope to millions in this movie. This is a must see film.”
Movie critics and journalists across the board called the film a “surprise hit” and “the big shocker of the weekend.” But anyone who has paid attention to Christian films knows that the success of the low budget film was not a surprise.
Maybe it is time to switch the narrative from surprising to predicted, as Christian-based movies receive a large turnout time and time again.
“(The word ‘surprise’) should be retired,” said Adam Holz, who is a senior associate editor at Plugged In, Focus on the Family’s pop culture site. “We should be able to remember we’ve had six or seven of these movies that have made $50 or $60 million. For an $8 or $10-million movie, that’s a great turn on investment. Hollywood seems to have a short-term memory on that,” he continued.
Paula Faris, of Good Morning America, also explained that faith-based films are succeeding at high rates.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 30, 2018
These faith-based movies do extremely well, especially considering that they are only released in specific theatres. Imagine if they were released in all theatres, like other Hollywood movies?