By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Todd and Sonja Burpo got to meet the Canadian actor that played their daughter, Cassie, in the movie version of “Heaven is for Real.”
The visit came during a speaking engagement in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in late October.
The Burpos were the featured speakers for the Youth For Christ Center fundraiser in Winnipeg. More than 1,500 people attended the event which raised money for the center that serves inner city kids in Winnipeg.
Their presence helped the center draw its largest crowd ever for the fundraiser.
Winnipeg was where Sony filmed the movie so the Burpos took the opportunity to meet Lane Styles and her family. Styles played Cassie in the movie.
Todd said they had met all of the other actors that played their family except for Styles.
While in Winnipeg, they also traveled outside the city to two small towns, Rosser and Selkirk, where scenes for the movie were filmed.
The Burpos were surprised to see some of the fire trucks of the Rosser Fire Department still had “City of Imperial Fire Dept.” lettering on the doors. In addition, an Imperial Fire Department sign still hangs over the firemen’s lockers in the fire hall.
Burpo said their fire chief told them they decided not to change the doors or take down the sign for now because they are getting visitors who want to see where the movie was filmed.
The Burpos also visited the Notre Dame Catholic Church in Selkirk, which served as a filming location for about three weeks.
There, they met Fr. Stan Gacek. He told the Burpos the film crews took over their church for about three weeks and said it was a positive experience for the church.
One of the benefits was getting all new carpet that was installed for the filming. Other improvements made to the church remained after the filming, as well.
During their visit, they had numerous people tell them they had played extra roles and were included in the film.
Interest in book, movie strong
Interest in both the book and the movie remain strong.
The book, released in 2010, is ninth on the New York Times non-fiction best-seller list and has been on the list for 206 consecutive weeks.
Burpo said the book continues to be translated into foreign languages. Thus far, the book appears in 37 different languages.
With domestic and foreign sales, the book has now sold more than 12 million copies.
The movie is now showing on the Starz movie network.
The movie, made on a $12 million budget, generated more the $101 million in worldwide domestic box office receipts.
That makes the movie the fifth highest grossing Christian film of all time.
The Burpos and son Colton continue to travel both domestically and internationally to share God’s message that Heaven is indeed real.