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I Can Only Imagine (2018)

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The inspiring and unknown true story behind MercyMe's beloved, chart topping song that brings ultimate hope to so many is a gripping reminder of the power of true forgiveness.


Andrew Erwin (as The Erwin Brothers), Jon Erwin (as The Erwin Brothers)


Bart Millard (based on the life story of), Jon Erwin (story by) | 4 more credits »
614 ( 44)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
J. Michael Finley ... Bart
Madeline Carroll ... Shannon
Dennis Quaid ... Arthur
Trace Adkins ... Brickell
Cloris Leachman ... Memaw
Jason Burkey ... Mike
Mark Furze ... Nathan
Randy McDowell ... Jim
Cole Marcus ... Robbie
Alexander Dominguez ... Kent
Brody Rose Brody Rose ... Young Bart
Taegen Burns ... Young Shannon
J.R. Cacia ... Rusty
Tanya Clarke ... Adele
Nicole DuPort ... Amy Grant


10-year-old Bart Millard lives with his mother and abusive father Arthur in Texas. One day his mother drops him off at a Christian camp where he meets Shannon. Upon his return from camp, Bart finds his mother has left and movers are removing her belongings. He angrily confronts his father, who denies that his abusiveness was the reason she left. Years later, in high school, Bart and Shannon are dating. Bart plays football to please his father, but is injured, breaking both ankles and ending his career. The only elective with openings is music class, so he reluctantly signs up..

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The song you know. The story you don't. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements including some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official Site





Release Date:

16 March 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Can Only Imagine See more »

Filming Locations:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,104,797, 18 March 2018, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This movie was filmed in Oklahoma. See more »


After joining the band and going on tour, they are playing a concert and Bart says "a Father that loves me so much that He died for me." This is NOT correct. God did not die for anyone. His Son Jesus Christ died for us. See more »


Brickell: [to Bart] You got talent, you got potential, you can sing, but I don't think you found your song, found your soul.
See more »


Referenced in Midnight Screenings: I Can Only Imagine (2018) See more »


Don't Bring Me Down
Written by Jeff Lynne
Published by EMI Blackwood Music Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

a layered Christian film which has appeal which goes well beyond its underlying religious message
19 March 2018 | by dave-mcclainSee all my reviews

"I Can Only Imagine" (PG, 1:50) is a dramatization of the creation of the all-time most popular contemporary Christian song, after which the film is named. The story follows the rise of MercyMe, the group which made the song famous, focusing on the life of lead singer Bret Millard, who wrote the song as his way of healing from his abusive childhood. Yes, this is a Christian movie, but it's also much more.

Newcomer J. Michael Finley (looking like a young Seth Rogen) stars as the adult Bret (with Brody Rose playing Bret as a child), a man trying to get past... well, his past. We see Bret as an only child being raised by a verbally and physically abusive father named Arthur (Dennis Quaid). Bret becomes a high school football player, like his father, trying for gridiron glory which eluded the elder Millard. But Brett's plans change and he accidentally discovers a talent and love for singing as a member of his school's glee club.

As Bret pursues his new dream, he distances himself from his father, but also ends up throwing away his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Shannon (Madeline Carroll as an adult, Taegen Burns as a child). After joining the musicians who become MercyMe, Bret and company go through the usual growing pains of young musicians, even after veteran music producer Scott Brickell (Trace Adkins) takes the group under his wing. Even as they make original music and go on tour, it seems what they really need to take them to the next level is more truth in their music, songs which come from their hearts.

"I Can Only Imagine" effectively speaks to Movie Fans on several different levels. It's a story about Christian musicians which doesn't preach, but simply shows how the faith of these men affected their lives and their music. Co-directors Andrew and Jon Erwin also make this movie a story about redemption and second chances, pursuing your dreams, and rising above your circumstances, all presented in a way that most Movie Fans can relate to, religious and non-religious alike. The movie even manages some surprises, framing the story in the context of a conversation about the famous song between Bret and a woman whose significance to the story is not revealed until late in the film. To all this, add a cast that is solid from top to bottom, mixing the talents of actors with widely varying levels of acting experience, and what we have is a very entertaining and impactful motion picture. How anyone could make a Christian movie that is likely to please its core constituency, while having equal appeal to a broader audience... well, I can only imagine. "A-"

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