The Gospel-focused drama series The Chosen, which premiered in 2019, has been breaking ground since its original crowdfunding campaign became the most successful one ever to that time. Now, it's shattering more records, with a Christmas-themed theatrical release during Advent.
Created by Evangelical filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, The Chosen, which has run two seasons so far, is a dramatized look at the Gospels, through the eyes of Jesus (played by Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie), Apostles, disciples and the lives Jesus touched.
Last Christmas, the show presented a two-hour concert event, livestreamed and aired on streaming and broadcast platforms. This year, The Chosen is going to the big screen, as a Fathom event, starting Dec. 1. Tickets here.
Originally slated to run Dec. 1 and 2, in just over 1,000 theaters, Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers broke Fathom Events records, with $1.5M in sales in the first 12 hours.
In a press release, Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom Events, said:
"Originally slated to premiere in 1,079 theaters, we've already added 450+ locations and thousands of screens to satisfy demand and anticipate these numbers will continue to grow."
As of today, tickets are being sold for Dec. 1-10, at 7 p.m. (in each time zone).
On Oct. 26, Jenkins announced Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers, which views the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph.
The pilot for the series was a 2017 short film called The Shepherd, another perspective on the Nativity, which Jenkins produced for his congregation.
The new episode has actors Sara Anne and Raj Bond reprising their roles as Mary and Joseph, respectively.
As Jenkins explained during the livestream, the episode is:
"So impactful. I'm not saying that from an arrogant perspective. I'm just saying that the intention behind it, and the message being given, the story that we're telling, and the way that we're telling it, is going to impact you.
"As we like to do in 'The Chosen,' we found out things about this story and are going to introduce them to you in a way that I don't believe has been communicated in this way before.
"It's going to change people's lives."
Like last year's Christmas special, Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers includes performances by Contemporary Christian Music artists, including Phil Wickham, Maverick City Music, For King and Country, Matt Maher, the Bonner Family, and We The Kingdom.
Also, as with last year, there will be spoken-word monologues featuring cast members of The Chosen.
During the livestream, Jenkins also said that, at Fathom's request, 15 minutes of additional content, which is not part of the actual Nativity episode, will be just in the theatrical release.
But fans in other nations or those who can't make it to a theater will be able to see a version of the Christmas With The Chosen: The Messenger via streaming, such as on The Chosen website and app. No details on that yet.
The Chosen is an ecumenical effort. While spearheaded by an Evangelical and starring a Catholic, its distributor (and creator of the app) is Angel Studios, owned by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The show also used a Jerusalem set in Utah built by the LDS Church, and airs on BYUtv, the cable channel operated by the Church's Brigham Young University.
One of the consultants on season one was Father David Guffey, C.S.C., head of production here at Family Theater Productions.
Here's a roundtable he did with Jenkins, looking at the show's portrayal of Mary:
Asked what this Fathom Event success means for Christian entertainment at large, Father Guffey said:
"From the time I was invited to read the first scripts, several years ago, I could tell that Dallas Jenkins and the creators of The Chosen series were bringing Jesus and the Apostles to life for people in a fresh, new way, with quality, entertaining storytelling of the events most sacred to Christians everywhere.
"It is not a surprise that the upcoming Christmas special has generated so much audience interest."
During the livestream, Jenkins told audiences that Season 3 of The Chosen will come out later than was originally planned, but he's cool with that.
"I believe that Season 3 was delayed a bit for this purpose. This episode, by itself, has its own power and impact.
"I know you're upset about Season 3 being delayed, but this will tide you over, and I'm glad it happened."
Image: Angel Studios/Fathom Events
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.