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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: June 26, 2018.

Running from a troubled home life and a broken relationship, Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley, Les Miserables) found escape in music. Hitting the road in a decrepit tour bus, Bart and his band MercyMe set out on an amazing journey none of them could have ever imagined. In the uplifting, music-filled movie I Can Only Imagine it beautifully illustrates the power of forgiveness and God’s love.

Dennis Quaid and Trace Adkins star in this inspiring true story behind MercyMe’s beloved hit song. Dennis Quaid gives one of his most powerful performances on screen in this movie. Also starring in this movie is Broadway star J. Michael Finley as Bart Millard. This film further features Priscilla C. Shirer (War Room) and Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show).

Experience with many others the uplifting story that shares the real power of forgiveness of I Can Only Imagine which is now available on Digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand from Lionsgate and Provident Films. Directed by the Erwin Brothers (Woodlawn) and written for the screen by Jon Erwin & Brent McCorkle, the film tells the amazing true story behind Christian band MercyMe’s iconic, history-making song “I Can Only Imagine.”  The true and uplifting story behind the song and picturized in the movie coveys the power of forgiveness and redemption through strong performances.

Kevin Downes, producer of 'I Can Only Imagine.' Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. producer talks 'I Can Only Imagine'

Kevin Downes, producer of ‘I Can Only Imagine.’ Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

Kevin Downes is a producer for I Can Only Imagine. In addition to producing, he has had a career of acting, directing, and writing which has spanned more than 20 years. Some of Kevin’s roles include Officer Shane Fuller in Courageous and Kevin in Moms’ Night Out. As a producer, I Can Only Imagine is his third film with the Erwin Brothers, along with Moms’ Night Out and Woodlawn.

Much of Kevin’s writing, directing, acting, and producing experience has been in the faith-based market. His vision is to produce high quality motion pictures to share strong messages of hope, faith, and love that come through a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

'I Can Only Imagine' stars Broadway star J. Michael Finley. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. producer talks 'I Can Only Imagine'

‘I Can Only Imagine’ stars Broadway star J. Michael Finley. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

Sonoma Christian Home has an exclusive interview with Kevin Downes in which he reflects on what he has experienced in following our Lord in making faith-based films. SCH Editor at Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.

SCH: Describe the growth of the faith-based or Christian film industry in the past 15 years?

KD: We are learning how to better reach our audiences with stories that relate, resonate, and meet their expectations.

SCH: Describe the improvement in faith-based, Christian movies.

KD: We have been improving in our storytelling.

SCH: Why do you think that the work of Christian producers, directors, and writers such as that of PureFlix, Erwin Brothers, Kendrick Brothers, or yours, Kevin Downes Productions, are having increasing success?

KD: It is God who is bringing the success, rather than formulas.

Bart Millard (John Michael Finley) in the new film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. producer talks 'I Can Only Imagine'

Bart Millard (John Michael Finley) in the new film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

SCH: Both Woodlawn and I Can Only Imagine are based on true stories. What is the power of a true story?

KD: True stories like these showcase the power of the Gospel.

SCH: What to do you see our Lord doing with the faith-based, Christian movie industry?

KD:  It is hard to know what God is doing with our industry, although we are seeing the power of God and are encouraged by what we see Him doing.

SCH: What are keys to being a good actor?

KD: Film is a director’s medium. Good casting is important. The actor must understand the character.

SCH: What are keys to being a good producer?

KD:  The key is having a common goal with the team, understanding them and having good relationships with them.

DH: What are you working on now?

KD: We are working on the DVD and international markets for I Can Only Imagine. We have had no expectations of how the movie would do and have enjoyed the surprises.

Bart Millard (John Michael Finley) and Arthur Millard (Dennis Quaid) have a confrontation in the new film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. producer talks 'I Can Only Imagine'

Bart Millard (John Michael Finley) and Arthur Millard (Dennis Quaid) have a confrontation in the new film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

I Can Only Imagine has made $83 million at the box-office. It is the highest-grossing movie for its distributor Roadside Attractions and has beat out many high-budgeted movies from major Hollywood studios.

High school music teacher Mrs. Fincher (Priscilla Shirer) discovers Bart Millard's raw musical talent in the new film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. producer talks 'I Can Only Imagine'

High school music teacher Mrs. Fincher (Priscilla Shirer) discovers Bart Millard’s raw musical talent in the new film I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

Movieguide ® has said, “When the movie released, initial estimates from major entertainment publications estimated an opening of $2 million to $4 million for the faith-based drama, but as word of mouth spread, the estimates grew and grew, and it opened to $17 million in its first weekend and received a stellar A+ from CinemaScore patrons…The church-going audience has surprised Hollywood before with indie hits like God’s Not Dead.

I Can Only Imagine avoided some of the pitfalls of others because first, it was an emotional story pretty well told and second, it courted church-going individuals with a compelling and genuine marketing campaign, and did not shy away from the faith content of their movie. In fact, Dennis Quaid opened himself to the media, vulnerably talking about his own faith and even releasing a song he’d been writing for his mother for decades called “On My Way to Heaven.” Along with the Christian band, MercyMe actively promoting the movie, all of these elements together created a perfect combination for the success of the movie.”

I Can Only Imagine © is a family movie rated PG for thematic elements including some violence. It is most appropriate for older children through adults. The home entertainment release of I Can Only Imagine features over 3 hours of extras including 7 deleted scenes, 7 in-depth featurettes, an audio commentary, and more! BLU-RAY / DVD /DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES include the following:

  • 7 Deleted Scenes
  • “MercyMe: The Early Days” Featurette
  • “Imagine Forgiveness with Bart Millard” Featurette
  • “Casting I Can Only Imagine” Featurette
  • “The Power of the Song” Featurette
  • “Creating Imagine” Featurette
  • “The Music of Imagine” Featurette
  • Dennis Quaid: “On My Way to Heaven” Featurette
  • Audio Commentary

Find more information on social media at the film’s website,  Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

 

To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard

 

 

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