Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions Pick Up 'I Can Only Imagine' Starring Dennis Quaid; Set Release Date

(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)Cast member Dennis Quaid is interviewed at the premiere of the movie "The Special Relationship" at the Director's Guild of America in Los Angeles May 19, 2010.

The powerful story behind the Christian contemporary hit song "I Can Only Imagine," which has now been turned into a movie featuring Hollywood star Dennis Quaid, was picked up by global leading content distributor Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. They announced an official release date.

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions acquired rights to Jon and Andrew Erwin's film, "I Can Only Imagine," on Monday and the company set a March 16, 2018 release date for the inspiring film throughout North American theaters.

Along with Quaid ("The Day After Tomorrow," "The Rookie," "Soul Surfer"), the faith-based movie features an all-star cast, including Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman ("The Iron Giant"), platinum-selling country music legend Trace Adkins, author and actress Priscilla Shirer ("War Room"), and will introduce Broadway's J. Michael Finley ("Les Miserables").

The film is based off of contemporary Christian band MercyMe's 1999 song, "I Can Only Imagine." The song alone sold over 2 million digital downloads, was certified almost 3x platinum, and the crossover hit went on to be the "most played Christian radio single in history."

Now, almost a decade later, the film will tell the story behind the hit single.

According to the film's synopsis, "I Can Only Imagine" is the "true story that follows the life of Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe, who loses his father to cancer and inspires him to write the mega-hit song, 'I Can Only Imagine.' The story beautifully illustrates that nobody is ever too far from God's love — or too far from an eternal home in Heaven."

"This is an extraordinary movie about the power of faith, love, family, and music," said Roadside Attractions Co-Presidents and Co-Founders Howard Cohen and Eric d'Arbeloff in a statement shared with The Christian Post. "The Erwins bring world-class storytelling and production values to faith-based films. It's no surprise they have attracted such a phenomenal cast to their latest feature. We are thrilled to be bringing it to theatrical audiences nationwide."

"We are delighted to be working with the talented Erwin brothers who have an incredible vision for both the film and the music," commented Lionsgate President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions Jason Constantine. "Coming on the heels of our faith-based box office hit, 'The Shack,' 'I Can Only Imagine' will touch audiences everywhere. We are very excited to bring this wonderful story to the big screen."

This is the fourth feature for the Erwin Brothers, Jon and Andrew Erwin, the Christian filmmakers behind "Woodlawn," "Moms' Night Out" and "October Baby."

As seen on social media, the members of MercyMe are also more than thrilled about the film. Millard took to social media to reveal that the project has been in the making for years.

"I was first approached over five years ago. No turning back now," Millard wrote in January when they first announced the film on deadline.

For more information about MercyMe and the film's release, follow the band on Facebook.

Follow Jeannie Law on Twitter: @jlawcp