The new faith-based movie “I Can Only Imagine” delivered surprised box-office success over the weekend, beating early forecasts for the film.
Across the 1,629 theaters playing the Christian movie, the Roadside Attractions-Lionsgate film brought in $17.1 million, Variety reported, blowing the $2-$8 million estimates out of the water.
Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, said he first got a sense “I Can Only Imagine,” which stars Dennis Quaid and J. Michael Finley, might over-perform when ticket pre-sales came in at $1.6 million and 130 million people had viewed the movie’s trailer.
“I Can Only Imagine” even briefly bested Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” as the top-trending movie, according to MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard, who authored the song that inspired the film:
Cohen said the project benefitted from strong grassroots support among the Christian community.
“We knew that it was going to do well, but we never expected a $17 million opening,” he said. “We’re planning to be on well over 2,000 screens next weekend.”
In another Instagram post, Millard said he and his fellow band members have been “blown away by the response to this movie.”
“We cannot even thank you enough for how you’ve turned out, and I can tell you right now, Hollywood is scratching their head wondering what in the world has just happened because it all came out of nowhere is what it feels like to them,” he said. “But we knew … that God was able and we’re just happy to be a part of it”
Ultimately, the faith-based movie, which tells the story behind Millard’s beloved song, came in third at the domestic box office, right behind “Tomb Raider” with $23.5 million at 3,854 sites and “Black Panther” with $27 million at 3,834 locations.