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Coronavirus has shut down the box office. Faith-based romance ‘I Still Believe’ heads for VOD

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KJ Apa and Britt Robertson in Lionsgate’s “I Still Believe”
(Michael Kubeisy/Lionsgate)

In the latest example of film distributors scrambling to salvage their current releases amid mass theater closures, Lionsgate announced Thursday that it will make the faith-based romantic drama “I Still Believe” available for viewing on-demand across various platforms on March 27.

The film, which stars KJ Apa and Britt Robertson and is directed by Jon and Andrew Ervin, is based on the life of Christian music singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly their wedding. It was released in theaters on March 13, just as the exhibition business was being hit with a tidal wave of closings because of growing coronavirus fears. With that weekend’s box office plummeting to a 20-year low, the film earned $9.1 million, short of pre-release tracking of $10 to 12 million.

Two other films released that same weekend, Sony’s Vin Diesel action movie “Bloodshot” and Universal’s satirical thriller “The Hunt,” have also been slated for early VOD releases. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. announced that the Ben Affleck addiction recovery drama “The Way Back” will be available to purchase on VOD on March 24, less than three weeks after the film hit theaters.

The unprecedented shortening of theatrical “windows” (the time between when a film hits theaters and is subsequently released for home viewing) has some in the industry declaring Hollywood will never return to business as usual.

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“We are heartbroken that we can’t share ‘I Still Beleive’ on a big screen the way we intended,” the Ervin brothers said in a statement. “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.”

In a recent interview with The Times, Apa, best known from the CW teen drama “Riverdale,” said that he hoped the film would show different sides of his ability and demonstrate that he “can be more than just the pretty boy.... I’m hoping this movie is gonna change that. I know what I’m capable of.”


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