‘I Can Only Imagine’ Film Release

Real-life story behind popular Gospel hit headed to the big screen

I Can Only Imagine, the multi-platinum gospel single by Christian rock group MercyMe, has managed to capture the hearts of millions of fans across the globe since its release in 2001. Now, the directors of Mom’s Night Out andWoodlawn, Jon and Andrew Erwin (Erwin Brothers) and producer Kevin Downes (Courageous) have joined forces to bring the fascinating story behind this hit to life on the big screen in a heartfelt film that promises to bring hope to many.

The film opens at cinemas in South Africa on 11 May.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6450186/videoplayer/vi3335632921?ref_=tt_ov_vi

The idea for the song was inspired by band frontman, Bart Millard’s, past and was written years after finally overcoming his abusive childhood. It immediately resonated with audiences of all ages, became an instant top-selling hit, won Songwriter Of The Year and Song Of The Year at the Dove Awards and was certified as a double platinum selling Christian song. “We were making an independent record, and we needed one more song. And I was literally just trying to find a blank page [in my journal], and every page had the words ‘I Can Only Imagine’ written on it,” shares Bart. “So it was kinda like, ‘I get it.’ I wrote the song on the bus one night. Even though it took about five or ten minutes to write, it had been in my heart for a really long time.” 

Watch the Song here

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE (the movie) tells the story of a little boy in Texas who is emotionally and physically abused by his father (Dennis Quaid) and abandoned by his mother. The abuse starts after his father suffers a brain injury due to an accident at work and becomes a ‘monster’ who is unable to control his anger and disappointment with life. By the grace of God, Bart (John Michael Finley) and his father manages to redeem their relationship during his teenage years and he gets to witness the power of faith and transformation first-hand.

Broadway actor, John Michael Finley’s (Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd), makes his on-screen debut in the lead-role of Bart Millard in this emotional film. It was his booming voice that first drew filmmakers to cast him as this pivotal character. Interestingly, his background proved to connect him even more to the role. “I was born in Arkansas and grew up in southern Missouri, so I had that Midwest mentality,” says Finley. “Bart and I both had early life events that made us grow up real fast. And I connect with the way Bart uses humour to deflect other people.” 

Acclaimed actor, Dennis Quaid (The Right Stuff, Breaking Away, The Parent Trap, Far From Heaven) plays Arthur, Bart’s father, who saw his dreams dashed and strives to protect his son from similar disappointment, even if it means having no dreams at all. The film also boasts impressive performances by model and television star, Madeline Carroll, in the role of Millard’s wife Shannon as well as Golden Globe Winner, Cloris Leachman (A Brand New Life, Malcolm in the Middle), as Memaw.

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE is a gripping reminder of the power of forgiveness and beautifully illustrates that no one is ever too far from God’s love – or from an eternal home in Heaven. “What I’m most excited about is people seeing this who have never heard the story before,” explains producer Kevin Downes. “This is a powerful tale that I believe is going to bring hope to people all over the world.”

This inspirational movie is distributed by Ster-Kinekor Entertainment and will be released in South African cinemas on 11 May 2018.

For more information on I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, including official trailers, please visit our Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter at @SterEnt, using #ICOI.


Genre: Drama | Family

Classification: TBA

Running time: 1h:50mins

Release date: 11 May 2018

Sneak previews to the public are taking place in cinemas around the country on Sunday, April 29 at the following Ster-Kinekor cinemas (bookings available on www.sterkinekor.com):-

  • Tygervalley
  • Cape Gate
  • Blueroute
  • Somerset Mall
  • Garden Route Mall
  • Gateway
  • Mall of Africa
  • Cradlestone
  • Matlosana Mall
  • Brooklyn Mall
  • Kolonnade
  • Irene Mall
  • Cresta
  • Mall at Carnival
  • Eastgate

The film officially opens in South Africa on 11 May at the following cinemas:-


Cape Region

  1. Tygervalley
  2. Cape Gate
  3. Blueroute
  4. Somerset Mall
  5. Garden Route Mall
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