Tragedy Tests Faith in ‘I Still Believe’

Love and faith are tested in I Still Believe, the true story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa.

In the film, Camp’s search for his artistic voice leads him to professional success and the love of his life, but his faith is put to the test when tragedy strikes. It stars K.J. Apa as Camp and Britt Robertson as Melissa. Directed by Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin, the film was written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn and is produced by Kevin Downes and the Erwins.

I Still Believe became available on premium VOD March 27 and on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital May 5.

“It’s a really authentic story that shows young love going through some of the big-gest challenges that you can imagine,” says Andy Erwin in the extras.

At the heart of the story is Camp’s first love, Melissa, who fights cancer with the support of her husband and her Christian faith.

“The impact that she had on his life was so profound that it ended up launching this platform for his worldwide music ministry,” says Downes.

“She wanted to have the courage to endure something that would change people,” adds Robertson.

Camp expresses his faith and his love for Melissa through music, and to tell his story, Apa worked with music producers to hone his voice before filming.

“We had decided early on that we didn’t want to imitate Jeremy,” says Andy Erwin.

“The music that we had, that Jeremy wrote, we kind of made it our own,” adds Apa.

The result is a soundtrack that fans will enjoy, say filmmakers.

“I think fans of Jeremy Camp will hear something familiar but really unexpected as K.J. kind of reinterprets what Jeremy’s music is to him,” says Andy Erwin.

Camp wrote the song “I Still Believe” to reaffirm his faith and bare his soul. Singer-songwriter Shania Twain, who plays Camp’s mother, identifies with his songwriting dilemma.

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“You’re contemplating, ‘Do I share this intimacy or don’t I?,’” she says in the extras. “Jeremy felt it was more important to share.”

“He writes this beautiful song that begins his journey toward true healing,” adds Gary Sinise, who portrays Camp’s father.

The Erwins had Sinise in mind when they wrote the part.

“To have him on set I think everybody just raised their game,” says Jon Erwin.

Among the extras is a conversation between Camp and fellow Christian music star Bart Millard of MercyMe, the subject of Kingdom’s previous film I Can Only Imagine. They compare notes on their biopics and contemplate how their stories have inspired the world.

“Millions have been ministered to because of this,” Camp says.

Extras on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Andy and Jon Erwin
  • “Origin” featurette
  • “Casting” featurette “Music” featurette
  • “Music” featurette
  • “Bart & Jeremy” featurette
  • Deleted Scenes

 

Kingdom and Lionsgate: A Royally Successful Wedding

It was a great first date — the release of I Can Only Imagine— that was the genesis of the partnership between Kingdom Story Company and Lionsgate.

The origin tale about the Christian music breakout hit had been in “development hell,” notes Kingdom president Josh Walsh.

“At the time we didn’t really have a lot of street cred,” he says.

The filmmakers privately financed and independently produced the film and found a distribution partner in Lionsgate.

“Lionsgate really saw something in it, and took a chance to distribute it,” Walsh recalls.

The film went on to earn more than $17 million its opening weekend and tally $86 million worldwide for its theatrical run — and it spawned a marriage between Lionsgate and Kingdom — led by filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin, Kevin Downes and Tony Young.

“Jon and Andy said, ‘We want to build a company, not to do one film here and there, but build a collective of artists to do something bigger than just a movie every couple of years,’” Walsh recalls. “[Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman] Joe Drake really bought into that vision and supported it in a big way. And that would become the Kingdom-Lionsgate partnership, and we’ve had an amazing partnership thus far.”

This year’s follow-up to Lionsgate sister company Roadside Attractions’ I Can Only Imagine, the film I Still Believe is the first product of that union, and like the couple in the film, the movie had to weather hardship.

After it earned a promising $10 million at the box office its opening weekend, I Still Believe ended its theatrical run as the nation’s movie theaters closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The film would have to use a relatively new form of distribution, premium VOD, to continue to find an audience.

“As filmmakers, we are heart-broken that we can’t share I Still Believe on a big screen the way we intended,” stated filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin at the time. “We make movies because we love movies and we stand firmly behind the nation’s theater chains, from the largest circuits to the smallest mom-and-pop indies that have been so dramatically affected by these unprecedented closures. But the safety of guests comes first, and we’re proud to have the opportunity to share online a movie whose inspiring message of love, hope and faith is perfect for these uncertain times.”

Lionsgate released I Still Believe on PVOD March 27, just weeks after its March 12 theatrical opening.

“We’re thankful for our exhibition partners for being understanding, and we’re thankful to Lionsgate for being innovative,” Walsh says. “We were really surprised and thankful with how that premium window went. We know it’s just new territory for the whole industry, so we are thankful for the audience that has showed up.”

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He notes Lionsgate’s marketing team turned on a dime to boost the new distribution strategy.

“With its loyal and passionate fan base and an uplifting message of hope for these uncertain times, it made perfect sense to shift gears and release I Still Believe in the premium video-on-demand space,” says Lionsgate worldwide home entertainment president Ron Schwartz. “We trust Kingdom to deliver quality films and they trust our ability to take full advantage of the marketplace. While we can hardly wait to return to theaters when it’s time, we’re pleased that our home entertainment marketing, operations and creative teams could pivot quickly to ensure that I Still Believe reached its audience, and we expect its strong performance to continue through its traditional home entertainment window as well.”

Walsh also looks forward to the disc release of the film, noting that the home entertainment window is “a big one” for Kingdom’s content — inspirational stories of faith and patriotism.

“With the premium VOD window, we learned the audience is still there and wants to see it,” he says. “I think in the next window of home entertainment, there’ll be an even bigger audience — so we’re excited.”

Faith Film ‘The Heart of Man’ Due on Blu-ray Sept. 17 From MVD

The faith-based film The Heart of Man is coming to Blu-ray Disc Sept. 17 from MVD Entertainment Group and Ocean Avenue Entertainment.

The film is a narrative telling of a father’s “Prodigal Son” search for his son shot in Hawaii interwoven with interviews with real people going through their problems and subsequent healing.

The film also includes interviews with William Paul Young, author of the New York Times best-selling novel The Shack; Dan Allender, Ph.D, author of The Wounded Heart; and spoken word artist Jackie Hill Perry.

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Directed by Eric Asau, the film stars Robert Fleet, Serena Karnagy and Justin Torrence.

Doc ‘Ring of Faith’ Due on DVD, VOD and EST July 23 From Virgil

The boxing documentary Ring of Faith, exploring faith’s role in boxing, is coming to DVD, VOD and EST July 23 from Virgil Films.

Featuring interviews with professional boxers (Paulie Malignaggi and two-time Welterweight World Champion Shawn Porter), religious leaders (including Vatican officials) and influencers in sports, Ring of Faith gives an in depth look at the impact that boxing has made on communities while looking at the way faith and religion have played roles in the sport and lives of the boxers.

Ring of Faith, which features actor/entertainment journalist Mario Lopez and boxing trainer/analyst Teddy Atlas, was recently nominated for a New York Emmy Award.

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Faith Film ‘Breakthrough’ Breaks Out on Digital July 2, Disc July 16

The faith-based film Breakthrough will come out on digital July 2 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD July 16 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In the film, when Joyce Smith’s (Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us”) adopted son John (Marcel Ruiz) falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost as John lies lifeless. In the face of every bleak medical case history and dire scientific prediction, Joyce’s unwavering belief inspires her community to pray for John’s recovery.

Along with producer DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven), the film was adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds) from Joyce Smith’s book (The Impossible). The film also stars Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama), Topher Grace (“That ‘70s Show”), Mike Colter (“Luke Cage”), Sam Trammell (“This is Us”) and Dennis Haysbert (“24”).

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The film has been awarded the Dove Seal of Approval for all ages.

Extras on the discs include a making of featurette; “Carry My Soul,” a Phil Wickham deleted scene with optional audio commentary by Franklin and director Roxann Dawson; “Trapped in Icy Waters”; audio commentary by Franklin and Dawson; and a photo gallery.

Faith Film ‘Run the Race’ Coming to Disc at Walmart and Digital May 21

The faith-based film Run the Race debuts on Blu-ray and DVD at Walmart as well as on digital (including Movies Anywhere) and on demand May 21 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, in partnership with The WTA Group, Reserve Entertainment and 10th Leper Productions.

The film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD at all retailers nationwide June 18.

Executive produced by athlete Tim Tebow and his brother Robby Tebow, the family drama follows the journey of two high school athletes and brothers who see their relationship tested as they seek different paths out of their troubled lives. Reeling from his mother’s death and his father’s abandonment, Zach, an all-state athlete, finds glory on the football field, working to earn a college scholarship and the brothers’ ticket out of town. When a devastating injury puts Zach — and his dreams — on the sidelines, David laces up his track cleats to salvage their future and point Zach toward hope.

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The cast includes Tanner Stine (“NCIS,” Indivisible), Kristoffer Polaha (“Condor,” “Get Shorty”), Evan Hofer (“Kickin’ It”), Kelsey Reinhardt (“Transparent”) and Mario Van Peebles (“Superstition,” “Bloodline”) with Mykelti Williamson (FencesForrest Gump) and Frances Fisher (TitanicUnforgiven).

Bonus features include “The Heart of Run the Race,” in which executive producer Tim Tebow and cast talk about why the film is so important, what makes it special, and the bonds of family; a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film with writer-producer Jake McEntire and executive producer Robby Tebow; and “The Cast Talks,” in which cast and crew cover a variety of topics, including their characters, the power of forgiveness, mentorship, dating and sports.

Pureflix.com to Produce Three Original Series

Independent faith and family streaming site Pureflix.com has announced the production of three new original series to bow in 2019: “Mood Swings,” “Sons of Thunder” and ‘The Beverly’s.”

The three-year-old entertainment site, featuring movies, TV shows and kids’ programs, is a subsidiary of Pure Flix Entertainment, a faith-based entertainment company and Christian movie studio based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that produces, distributes and acquires Christ-based movies. Subscriptions are $10.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

“Mood Swings” is a comedy that stars Donna Mills (“Knots Landing”), Crystal Hunt (“One Life to Live”), Andrea Logan White and Larry Wilcox (“CHiPS”). It follows four generations of women who live together as roommates in the City of Angels as they deal with various life issues and surviving each other.

“Sons of Thunder” is a mystery drama starring Randall Reeder (Deadpool) and Vanessa Angel (“Being Mary Jane”). It follows a combat vet who travels across the country to find the owner of a mysterious bag. Along the way God gives him a mission to help others.

“The Beverly’s” is a family comedy that centers on a small town girl (Christian music artist Jamie Grace) who mentors three young orphan girls that dream of starting their own music group and along the way learn valuable life lessons.

Pure Flix has produced such faith films as the “God’s Not Dead” franchise, Do You Believe and The Case for Christ. Inspirational entertainment on Pureflix.com includes recently premiered new episodes of “Malibu Dan … The Family Man,” starring David A.R. White, Kelly Stables and Andrea Logan White with guest stars including Cheryl Ladd and David Rasche; “Hilton Head Island”; and “The Pure Flix Comedy All Stars,” with Sinbad and Louie Anderson.

Stage Production ‘Moses’ Coming to DVD Oct. 16 From Virgil Films

Moses, a theatrical stage production, will hit DVD Oct. 16 from Virgil Films at $19.99.

Filmed in front of a live audience at Sight & Sound in Lancaster, Penn., Moses is an original stage production experienced by nearly 2 million people. It follows the life of Moses, set adrift as a baby and wandering in the wilderness — until God calls him into action to lead God’s people to the promised land.

The filming took place in a 2,000-seat theater with live animals and special effects including the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, a ship on stage, and the death angel, floating above the audience.

Fathom will mount a three-day theatrical event for Moses on Sept. 13, Sept. 15 and Sept. 20 in more than 800 Theaters.

The title has an all ages rating from the Dove Foundation.

‘I Can Only Imagine,’ ‘I Am Elizabeth Smart’ Due This Summer From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the surprise spiritual film hit I Can Only Imagine on digital June 5, and Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand June 12.

The film has earned more than $81 million at the domestic box office.

Starring Dennis Quaid and J. Michael Finley, the film is based on the true story behind Christian band MercyMe’s song “I Can Only Imagine.” Running from a troubled home life and a broken relationship, Bart Millard (Finley) finds escape in music.

Special features include seven deleted scenes, the “MercyMe: The Early Days” featurette, the “Imagine Forgiveness with Bart Millard” featurette, the “Casting I Can Only Imagine” featurette, the “The Power of the Song” featurette, the “Creating Imagine” featurette, the “The Music of Imagine” featurette, Dennis Quaid in the “On My Way to Heaven” featurette, and  audio commentary.

Due July 10 on DVD ($14.98) from Lionsgate is the Lifetime movie I Am Elizabeth Smart, based on one of the most famous abductions in history, authorized and narrated by Smart herself. The film follows the June 2002 abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Ann Smart (Alana Boden) from her home in Salt Lake City by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell (Skeet Ulrich).