The Chosen is no longer a tiny crowd-funded project. This movement just keeps growing. This week the biblical fiction drama’s feature Holy Night is hitting the box office, and this February the entire fourth season will premiere exclusively in theaters—an unprecedented feat for a television show. Even new U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson invited the cast to a bipartisan screening of their Christmas movie in the U.S. Capitol, and Chosen creator Dallas Jenkins has been named one of 2023’s most influential producers by The Hollywood Reporter.
Just last October, The Chosen drew 3,500 attendees to Dallas, Texas for the first ever fan convention. While similar events, such as San Diego Comic-Con, draw crowds of thousands to celebrate a wide spectrum of entertainment, the Bible-based historical drama turned the standard upside-down by hosting thousands for a single television show. Six months ago, in-person tickets sold out within 36 hours of going on sale.1 Attendees had the chance to meet the cast, attend in-person biblical roundtables, and listen to crew, writer, and director interviews in breakout sessions, as well as see sneak peeks of future projects and trailers.
As a massive fan of The Chosen, I thought I already knew the show’s impact, but ChosenCon made me realize “The Chosen Effect” was far more widespread.
The Chosen Effect is changing the world
A sea of teal-colored shirts descended on the metropolitan area and turned heads everywhere. Staff at Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ welcomed fans with outdoor signage, and Capernaum Studios gave specialized tours of The Chosen’s sets for seasons 1 and 2. Even airport TSA employees shared their excitement for the show as they confirmed travelers’ IDs.
During a panel with YouTube creator Ruslan KD, executive producer Derral Eves said that when The Chosen launched season 3 on Amazon, Amazon’s streaming staff gave him a low viewer estimate.
[Amazon said]: “This is the amount of views you’re going to get on Amazon in a year.” And I’m like, “You don’t know The Chosen effect.” … Ten days later, we surpass the number we were supposed to get in a year. That catapulted us into the top ten shows on Amazon. We were getting anywhere between 800,000 to 1.3 [million] new viewers a day.
Since then, The Chosen has reached Amazon Prime’s top 10 television shows for over 100 consecutive days and climbed to the top 5 by mid-November, ahead of Amazon’s own series The Boys and Jack Ryan.
In another conference session, the Come And See Foundation shared a story and video about how The Chosen was dubbed in Malagasy and shared to thousands of Madagascar street orphans who’ve never seen a television show in their native language. Come And See worked directly alongside Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina, to reach parts of the country that didn’t even have electricity.2
The Chosen Effect is changing its cast members
At the conference, however, I was probably struck most by the show’s effect on the cast itself. Between tears and raw voices, several actors struggled to steady their emotions as they talked about The Chosen’s and Jenkins’s influence. Noah James, who plays the disciple Andrew, said the show has “completely changed” his life:
Dallas … really introduced to me the idea of “Sometimes you just have to surrender.” You just have to say: “There are things that are not in my control right now.” … And I really took that to heart. … That’s something I have definitely gotten from this show, and so I do want to thank [Dallas] for that.
We may forget that The Chosen doesn’t just impact consumers, but also the cast and crew who are daily exposed to the Bible and get to see believers on set share and live their faith. Many of the cast are not professing believers, and possibly were never familiar with Christianity. As I’ve followed The Chosen since season 1, I’ve seen that change. For example, I have watched Liz Tabish’s (Mary Magdalene) interviews change from polite skepticism to definite belief in God. Meanwhile, Nick Shakoour (Zebedee) has gone public with a statement of faith.
During the SAG-AFTRA strikes, Austin Ree Alleman (Nathaniel) said that Jenkins and the producers are “real, and they mean what they say, and they’re good, kind people who are good to their actors.”
Jonathan Roumie (Jesus) remarked, “The odds that you get to work on something like this, that not only is great art, but also affects people on a deeply human level is almost impossible.”
The Chosen Effect is changing how Christians make stories
ChosenCon attracted CBS News for an upcoming special, scheduled for a Christmas Eve broadcast.3 That’s just one way the show keeps growing. It’s succeeding because creatives are finally treating the Bible for what it is: a truly fantastic story.
Instead of a Christian project that sermonizes the Bible, The Chosen focuses on human connections and human emotions, just as all good stories should.
In a hallway, I stopped Chosen co-writer Ryan Swanson for a quick interview.
“It’s a mix of being a faithful Christian and also being faithful to the craft of screenwriting,” Swanson told me. “Because we can’t just take this stuff like it is an assumption that our audience comes in in the same place we are. … We want to do the footwork of good storytelling.”
So long as they do, they’ll build this movement into a generational fandom. Jenkins has already said he expects this year’s ChosenCon to be the first of similar events. Next year’s convention will even be capable of selling 10,000 tickets.4
As a fan, I’m certainly excited to see The Chosen grow in success. But as a Christian, I’m even more thrilled to see people—especially Hollywood professionals and unbelievers—experience the Gospel in a new way. The show itself isn’t the Bible. Jonathan Roumie isn’t actually Jesus. But I can’t ignore the benefits The Chosen has brought to many who might never have heard the greatest Story ever told.
- On April 3, I bought my own tickets within ten minutes of availability. Even by then the specialized VIP tickets were already gone. ↩
- While the video was a con-exclusive, several media sites have summarized this story. ↩
- After producers roped me into an interview, they told me this was their planned air date. ↩
- Dallas dropped the news on one of his big livestream events. ↩