Distributed by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, the Oklahoma-made film “I Can Only Imagine” shattered box office expectations bringing in $17.1 million during its opening weekend in theatres across North America. The film also ranks as the #1 independent film released in America this week and marks Roadside Attractions highest theatrical debut ever.
“I Can Only Imagine” tells the story behind the multi-platinum song of the same name, which found an audience with both pop and Christian fans everywhere. The song was inspired by the true story of MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard whose life is explored on film. Directed by brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin, “I Can Only Imagine” features an all-star cast including Dennis Quaid (“The Day After Tomorrow”), Academy-Award winner Cloris Leachman (“Young Frankenstein”), country singer Trace Adkins, and in his screen debut, Broadway’s J. Michael Finley (“Les Miserables”).
Principal photography took place for “I Can Only Imagine” in Oklahoma and wrapped in January 2017. The film utilized the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program administered by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO), and created more than 340 local jobs throughout the production’s nearly 270-day stint in Oklahoma, which included pre-production, production and post-production. “I Can Only Imagine” was filmed throughout the communities of Oklahoma City, Jones, El Reno, Yukon, Del City and Bethany with a direct in-state spend totaling over $4 million dollars.
“We just fell in love with the people. The hospitality, the crew base, the locations are spectacular, and it really brought this movie to life,” said co-director Andrew Erwin. “I can’t imagine filming this movie anywhere else.”
“I’ve never felt as embraced by a state as a filmmaker and a city as Oklahoma City,” adds co-director Jon Erwin. “There’s something really magical about this state. The people are great, the crews are great, and the incentive is well-structured for a film like ours.”
While “Black Panther” and “Tomb Raider” claimed the top two spots at the box office this past weekend, “I Can Only Imagine” earned the top per-site average by far among the weekend’s wide release movies taking in an average $10,475 per screen from 1,629 locations, according to Variety. The film also received a rare A+ CinemaScore from audiences, and has plans to expand its theatrical release this upcoming weekend to include additional screens.
“Our state and its people gained an immediate economic impact on so many levels during filming and will continue reaping benefits, as the film gains momentum with millions of movie-goers across the nation”, said OF+MO Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “We’re incredibly grateful for the positive exposure Oklahoma is getting with audiences who are possibly seeing Oklahoma for the first time as well as future filmmakers whom we hope choose our beautifully diverse state as their next filming destination.”
About the Oklahoma Film + Music Office:
Created in 1979, The Oklahoma Film + Music Office strives to share all that Oklahoma has to offer by welcoming filmmakers and music professionals to the state and by creating a network of support to develop Oklahoma’s film and music industries. For more information about the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program or the Oklahoma Film + Music Office please visit okfilmmusic.org.