A new streaming series about the life of Jesus just became the No. 1 crowdfunded series in entertainment history.
"The Chosen," the first multi-season series of its kind about the life of Jesus—directed by Dallas Jenkins—has raised nearly $10.3 million in equity crowdfunding from 15,000 investors, unseating “Mystery Science Theater 3000”, which raised $5.7 million, as the No. 1 crowdfunded film or TV project in history. It's set to be released this Easter.
"When we started this whole thing I'd be impressed if we brought in $800," Jenkins told Fox News. "The notion that we could start from scratch and shatter the all-time crowdfunding record was ludicrous, but this whole year has gone to show that there's a passion for something different."
Equity crowdfunding is rarely used in Hollywood.
In late 2017, The Chosen Productions, partnering with distributor VidAngel, released a concept pilot on social media to gauge potential public interest in The Chosen. The pilot episode was seen by 15 million people around the world, asking people if they wanted to fund a show like this, and that's when investors said yes.
“The vast audience for high-quality, faith-based entertainment—all too often overlooked and underserved by Hollywood—made a loud and unmistakable statement that they’re so eager for content that resonates, they are willing to fund it into existence...,” Matthew Faraci, Executive Producer of The Chosen, told Fox News. “Backed by our army of 15,000 passionate investors, we’re excited to see how far we can take this series.”
The Chosen is not the first Christian production to rock Hollywood. The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, is still the highest-grossing independent film of all time. The Bible series, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, is currently streaming on Netflix and was the highest-rated cable broadcast of 2013.
And now The Chosen is breaking ground on the streaming front.
"Each time an opportunity like this has come up, Hollywood has failed to capitalize and follow up on the momentum, and we're not going to make that mistake," Faraci said.
The first four episodes of The Chosen will be available to watch this Easter. The entire series will be seven seasons long.
"I believe that the greatest story ever told should be binge-watched just as much as Stranger Things," Jenkins said, adding that he believes it will have a great impact on audiences. "We can dig deeper into the people who encountered Jesus, we can see their 'before,' and if the audience can see Jesus through the eyes of those who met him, perhaps they can be changed in the same way.”