When the faith-based movie “Miracles From Heaven” had its world bow in Los Angeles on Wednesday at the ArcLight Cinemas, it was an atypical Hollywood premiere. Sure, there was a red carpet and beautifully attired stars, but the general mood and feel of the evening was markedly different. There was a sense of good will and contentment emanating from all players involved in the project about the true story of the Beam family: When Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, her daughter’s health takes a dramatic turn that leaves medical specialists mystified.
Cast members and filmmakers in attendance to celebrate the film’s heart-tugging messages of faith and hope included Garner, Rogers, Martin Henderson, John Carroll Lynch, Eugenio Derbez, Queen Latifah, director Patricia Riggen, producers Joe Roth, T.D. Jakes and DeVon Franklin, and author Christy Beam with her entire family, including young Anna Beam, now 12.
Roth and Jakes, the producing team behind the 2014 movie “Heaven Is for Real,” acquired the film rights to Beam’s book, believing there’s mass appeal for this film as well, because it’s about an everyday type of superhero. Former Columbia Pictures exec-turned-producer Franklin explained, “We wanted to make sure we focused on the universal theme of miracles; that even the smallest miracle might be in front of us but if we’re not looking for it, we might miss it. Having seen this film play all around the country, this story is touching people. Entertainment can not only inspire, it can heal. Hollywood doesn’t do enough films like this because they think people don’t want it — not true! The movie is working. My hope and prayer is that people will see it. The everyday superhero is the mom or dad, the superpower can be faith and that can also have a place at the box office.”
Garner, who plays the devoted mom, also thinks the film has the potential to connect with a wide audience. “I think audiences will fall in love with the Beam family and their story and their strength, and how they lean on each other. I think they should take away some feeling of hope and inspiration.” As Garner’s character faces her daughter’s medical crisis head-on, there are many tearful moments (bring tissues!) and Garner shared that she felt “very connected” to her onscreen daughters, “corralling the three girls between takes, trying to keep them busy and happy.”
Rogers, Garner’s embattled daughter in the film, couldn’t stop smiling as she worked the press line at her first red carpet. Asked what she learned while working with Garner, Rogers beamed. “Jennifer taught me to always be kind, never look down upon anybody, and always have faith,” she said. “She’s so kind and sweet.”
Co-star Latifah said, “My faith has brought me through a lot of situations. I think this is going to move [audiences] emotionally. I think they’ll be uplifted. I just thought it was a cool story; it appealed to the 12-year-old in me: Magical things happen! I was familiar with the people involved, and the idea of doing some faith-based was exciting to me, to be able to give back in that sense.”
The post-screening party at Le Jardin in Hollywood was also decidedly un-Hollywood, with a kid-friendly menu of chicken and pasta, and musical choices that included the Beach Boys, Tracy Chapman and TLC. The real Beam family celebrated the film with the cast, friends and family, and many of the kids from the film and the Beam’s brood took selfies with each other.
“Miracles From Heaven” opens nationwide March 16.