I Can Only Imagine movie is a 2018 American Christian drama film directed by the Erwin Brothers and written by Alex Cramer, Jon Erwin, and Brent McCorkle. The movie is based on the story behind the MercyMe song of the same name, the best-selling Christian single of all time. I Can Only Imagine, which has grossed $83.5 million worldwide against a production budget of $7 million was released in the United States on March 16, 2018.
I Can Only Imagine tells the backstory of how the MercyMe song came to exist. The story revolves around the band’s lead singer Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley), who in the film’s opening scene tells fellow Christian performer, Amy Grant (Nicole DuPort) that he wrote the song that changed his life in only 10 minutes.
“You didn’t write this song in 10 minutes,” Grant replies. “It took a lifetime.”
The story then flashes back to Bart’s unhappy childhood. Coming from a home with an abusive father, David Bruner Runyan, depicted as 10-year-old Bart Millard. Bart is dropped off at a Christian camp by his mother, where he meets Shannon. Upon his return from camp, Bart (David) finds his mother has left and movers are removing her belongings, leading to a physical confrontation with his father Arthur, who takes custody of him.
Even as a child, Bart loved music, but his father would have none of it. “Dreams don’t pay the bills,” Arthur tells his son. However, just to please his dad, Bart aspires to a football career but an injury sidelines him permanently. Furthermore, to make up the credits he would miss from football, he signs up for music class, the only available class left. Then a teacher accidentally hears him singing, immediately she casts him in the lead role of Curley in the school production of Oklahoma! While his father, Arthur subsequently collapses with severe abdominal pain but refuses to tell him or Shannon about his cancer diagnosis. Bart is assaulted by his father, who smashes a plate over his head after he voices his frustrations. Then after his graduation breaks up with Shannon after she presses him to open up.
Bart then connects with the band named for his cute grandmother’s favorite expression. Along the way, they pick up a manager who shepherds and gets them a showcase in Nashville. However, their best performance was rejected by the industry representatives with claims that the band was not good enough to sell records. In despair, Bart Millard quits the band but rejoins later on. Then asks they wait for him to confront his father and settle the conflict. Upon returning home, Bart finds his father a changed man, who prepares breakfast for him the next morning. Arthur Millard also claimed to have become a Christian. Initially, Bart was not convinced and rejects his father’s offer to start over. But Bart finds out his father has terminal cancer and reconciles with him. Then they form a deep bond before Arthur dies.
After his father’s funeral, Bart rejoins the band and writes “I Can Only Imagine“. Grant chooses the song to be her next single. But just as she’s about to perform it live for the first time, she summons Bart from the audience and tells him to sing it instead. Bart performs the song, the audience loves it, and he reunites with Shannon. Grant is so moved that she gives the song back to Bart. The band releases the song as their first single, achieving success on Christian and mainstream radio.
I Can Only Imagine Movie Cast
- J.Michael Finley as Bart
- Brody Rose as Young Bart
- Dennis Quaid as Arthur
- Trace Adkins as Brickell
- Erik Ashlock as Jock
- Kelli Caldwell as Radio DJ
- Gina D. Brewer as Concert Goer
- Joy Brewer as Concert Goer
- O’Shay Brooks as Mover
- Taegen Burns as Young Shannon
- Jason Burkey as Mike
- Rick Burgess as Himself
- Bill ‘Bubba’ Bussey Jr. as Himself
I Can Only Imagine Movie Overview
- Genre(s):- Drama, Kids & Family
- Rating:- PG
- Release Date:- 16 March 2018
- Directed By:- Erwin Brothers ( Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin (II) )
- Written By:- Jon Erwin, Brent McCorkle, Alex Cramer
- Country:- United States
- Language:- English
- Run Time:- 110 minutes
- Budget:- $7 million
- Box Office:- $83.5 million