Lionsgate has signed a first-look deal with writer-directors Andrew and Jon Erwin and producing partner Kevin Downes, the team behind the latest faith-based box office success I Can Only Imagine. The pact will see the trio develop, produce and direct film and TV projects via their new Kingdom banner, with the aim to expand the studio’s reach in the faith market.

I Can Only Imagine has grossed $83.5 million since its March release via Lionsgate’s sister company Roadside Attractions, that company’s highest-grossing pic to date. It joined fellow Lionsgate success stories in the faith-based marketplace that include the Oscar-nominated Hacksaw Ridge and The Shack.

Jon Erwin, left, Andrew Erwin and Kevin Downes
Mike Kubeisy

The Erwin brothers’ previous directing credits include 2015’s Woodlawn, also produced with Downes. Now they join a Lionsgate roster of creatives that include Paul Feig, Eugenio Derbez, Kevin Hart, Justin Simien, Courtney Kemp, and Ed Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz, among others.

“We’re proud to expand our relationship with Andrew, Jon and Kevin through this exciting and collaborative, cross-divisional partnership,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake and Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs, who unveiled the tie-up. “This deal underscores our ongoing commitment to serve moviegoers with premium, faith-based content. We look forward to working with the Erwin Brothers and Kevin on film and television projects that resonate not only with the faith-based community but with viewers everywhere.”

Lionsgate
Lionsgate

Said Jon Erwin: “Our dream for launching Kingdom is to create the most trusted and respected brand in faith-based entertainment. We needed a partner that would catch that dream with us and Lionsgate is the perfect fit. They aren’t like any other studio we’ve ever worked with and they have a passion to empower creative entrepreneurs. We can’t wait to work together on some exciting new projects.”

Added Andrew Erwin: “Our creative ambition and directing sweet spot is to tell redemptive, inspirational stories that appeal to audiences everywhere. We need optimism and hope more than ever today, and those are the stories we love to tell.”

The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Motion Picture Group president of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Constantine and execs Eda Kowan, Bonnie Stylides and Adrian Lopez.

The Erwin brothers and Downes are repped by WME and Ziffren, Brittenham.