Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers is a box-office hit; Lord of the Rings celebrates 20 years on the big screen.
Chosen Christmas Wows Movie Audiences
Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers, essentially a Contemporary Christian Music Christmas concert plus a special episode of the TV series The Chosen, released on Dec. 1 as a Fathom Event, has become the best-selling presentation in the distributor's history, with ticket sales now topping $13.5M (per BoxOfficeMojo.com).
With $10.645 million over seven days, it has already passed (or will pass today) the lifetime totals of The Last Duel ($10.9 million), Last Night In Soho ($10.1 million), Cry Macho ($10.2 million). Once it tops $13.5 million and King Richard, it’ll have passed every awards season Oscar contender thus far save for Dune, House of Gucci and (presumably) West Side Story.
Still largely crowdfunded (which is how it began), The Chosen is a multi-episode TV series based on the Gospels -- and it's an exercise in ecumenical cooperation.
Evangelical writer/director Dallas Jenkins created the show; Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie stars as Jesus; and Angel Studios, owned by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, distributes it and built the app.
From an initial planned run of just a few days, tickets for the theatrical presentation can now be bought through Dec. 21 at selected theaters (info here). Within the first 12 hours of availability, the film was already breaking Fathom records, with $1.5M worth of tickets sold.
Ad-free family cablenet BYUtv -- which also streams shows free via its website and its own app -- has been airing the first and second seasons of The Chosen.
BYUtv is also currently the exclusive broadcast outlet for just the episode part of the presentation, which premieres there on Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. ET. It repeats on Dec. 24, at noon and 12 a.m. ET, and on Dec. 25 at 1 p.m. ET.
BYUtv will also screen the full theatrical presentation on Dec. 19 at 3 p.m. ET.
The Wall Street Journal has even taken notice of the show, with an article (behind its paywall) that came out Nov. 27.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Hits 20
Between 2001-2003, director Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema released three The Lord of the Rings films -- The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King -- based on the classic novels by Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien, shot all at once in New Zealand.
Articles are out commemorating the hit trilogy's journey to the screen.
From Britain's Independent:
Rounding up a cast of character actors (Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean), newcomers (Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd), the odd former child star (Elijah Wood, Sean Astin) and a British legend or two (Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm) – plus Hollywood stars such as Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett – a nearly two-year production schedule commenced in New Zealand, far away from the prying eyes of Hollywood.
But it nearly never was. In a story that features Harvey Weinstein, Quentin Tarantino and Aragorn being replaced a week before filming, the road to Lord of the Rings was almost as treacherous as the road to Mordor itself.
Twenty years after its release on 19 December 2001, the first chapter in the original trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, is as acclaimed now as it was then. Recently named the greatest film of all time by readers of Empire Magazine, The Fellowship of the Ring is also the rare blockbuster to be recognised at the Oscars, picking up 13 nominations in early 2002, and becoming a landmark in modern cinema.
The films were late released in extended versions, which some people liked even better.
From The Daily Dot, on the extended Fellowship of the Ring:
Anna María, social media editor: me, kicking down the door: THE EXTENDED EDITION IS SO MUCH BETTER. I truly adore every iteration of these films, but so much texture and depth is lost without the little moments excluded from the theatrical cut.
And, click here for an extended story from Variety on the high stakes in turning Tolkien's dense fantasy novels into box-office gold.
It ends with:
The three “LOTR” films earned 30 Oscar nominations, with 17 wins. On Feb. 29, 2004, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” won 11 Academy Awards; it was only the third film to earn that many (after “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic”) and was the only one to win in every category.
As Variety reported the following day, “It’s easy to forget how long a road it was to its 30 Oscar noms — and what a longshot the franchise was.”
The whole thing was also a boost for tourism in New Zealand, where you can still visit Hobbiton:
Image: Angel Studios
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.