'The Chosen' on Verge of Becoming Phenomenon with Release of Season 3

Jonathan Roumie as Jesus in The Chosen

ATLANTA – Opening in nearly 2,100 theaters nationwide over the weekend, Episodes 1 and 2 from Season 3 of The Chosen far exceeded early projections, bringing in a whopping $8.75 million in its first three days of release. The video series from Angel Studios was originally scheduled to have a limited five day run in theaters, but due to its robust opening weekend has been extended through December 1st.

Overall, The Chosen finished number three at the domestic box office, placing it 45% ahead of its last appearance in theaters during the 2021 holiday season with “Christmas with The Chosen”.

Such explosive growth and popularity seems to be pushing the grassroots, crowdfunded program toward being a global phenomenon, something show creator and director Dallas Jenkins didn’t foresee. 

“I never thought that this would happen, but I also didn’t think it wouldn’t happen. I just genuinely haven’t had expectations. And I know that sounds like a cliche, but it’s really true,” explains Jenkins, who was at a low point in his movie career just prior to The Chosen. “It makes me not care when it exceeds expectations. I don’t believe the hate, I don’t believe the praise. I’m just trying to honor what God has allowed me to do, to keep my hand to the plow. I just hope I never lose that.”

That aforementioned low point came following the release of 2017’s The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, a Hollywood production that grossed only $2.3 million at the box office. It truly served as a wake-up call for Jenkins, causing him to look inward and ultimately upward for answers.

“I thought I may never make another movie again,” says Jenkins, at the recent red-carpet premiere for The Chosen in Atlanta.  “For the first time in my life, I truly surrendered. And I think that posture has helped me through this process, and I’ve remained in that posture. When you truly get to the place where you only want to please God and your wife, it becomes a superpower.”

Beginning with the silent era of film more than 100 years ago, hundreds if not thousands of movies and television programs have been made about the life of Jesus Christ. But for every successful portrayal rooted in the four Gospels from the Bible, there have been scores of others that have fallen flat. Yet, there is something quite different about how the most transformative figure in history comes alive on the screen in The Chosen. Quite simply, we see the human side of Jesus juxtaposed against His holy deity.

“I think what Dallas (Jenkins) did amazingly, and then Jonathan Roumie in particular, in the way that he played Jesus, is they took such a complex character and made him an individual,” shares Andrew Erwin, who has co-directed such movies as I Can Only Imagine and American Underdog among others. “Mel Gibson did his version (of Jesus) that was more of the mystic Jesus. But I think what Dallas has explored is that, in Season 1, when Jesus said, “I’m a man. I’m divine, but I’m a man.” And that idea of Jesus as a man with human emotions, who had to experience feeling as a human being. What must he have been like? What was his personality like? What did he joke about? And that brought Him into life in a way that’s relatable. I don’t think any creative project like this has been done before.”

Roumie, who has done a remarkable job in his portrayal of Jesus on the series, is quick to point out that it is of the utmost importance to get the cadence and dialect of the region right. He believes that doing so makes Him more relatable to audiences.

“I just approached it (playing Jesus) from a historical point of view and a personal familial sense,” points out Roumie, who is also set to star in the upcoming Jesus Revolution movie, coming to theaters in February 2023. “My father’s from the Middle East, and I grew up hearing that accent. I would think that if you’re going to transliterate or have a version where they’re speaking English as close to authentically to that accent as it might have been, what would it sound like? And that’s what I came up with. And it became sort of the standard for the approach to the show. 

I had done it in short films. And then, after that, I was convicted that if I was going to play Jesus ever again, that’s my approach. And I’m going to bring that because I feel that’s me trying to do my homage to the ethnic origins. I think it brings a different flavor from anything else that’s been produced previously.”

It seems that much of the show’s success is due to its ability to be human and relatable. This is never more apparent than in a heart-wrenching yet highly impacting scene at the end of Episode 2. In it, Little James (Jordan Walker Ross) who is handicapped in real-life as well as in the series, asks Jesus (Roumie) why He has not healed him of his infirmity. It is a question that millions of God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians have asked over the centuries.

“When I cast him in that role, we thought we were going to have to ask this question,” Jenkins shares. “Especially when we get to the point where Jesus sends the disciples out to heal and He asks Little James to heal others. And Little James then asks Him to be healed. How do we address that? I think some people have lost their faith because they haven’t had a good answer to why God heals some people and not others? And so I think we had to launch into those questions and address those answers out of the scene.”

For Ross, while extremely emotional and highly personal, he believes it is a scene that has the potential to speak to those who are similarly afflicted and ultimately heal hearts.

“It was so helpful and cathartic (for me),” says Ross. “It felt like a six-hour therapy session. I’m just so honored to be a part of a scene like that. It will promote people talking about the things that they struggle with or are insecure about. And to let people know that just because they’re different doesn’t mean that they’re broken.”

Roumie adds, “I think it’s a beautiful opportunity to give our perspective on what Jesus has answered. I think the scene was divinely inspired because it’s such a Biblically centered answer. I just felt this makes sense. And, I just tried to come at it with the love, compassion, and infinite mercy of Christ Himself.”

Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 3 of The Chosen continue its theatrical run in theaters through December 1st. Tickets can be purchased here. Seasons 1 and 2 can be viewed now on The Chosen App.

Watch a Trailer for Season 3 of The Chosen:

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Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter is the managing site editor for Crossmap.com. In addition to his regular duties, Chris writes extensively for the website. Over the years, the veteran journalist has interviewed many notable entertainers, athletes, and politicians including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon, legendary entertainer Dolly Parton, evangelist Franklin Graham, author Max Lucado, Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and former presidential hopefuls Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike Huckabee.