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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

Box Office Failure Leads to "The Chosen"

The director of the first multi-season dramatic series about the life of Jesus recounts how God turned a career disaster into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Dallas Jenkins, right, speaks at Northridge Church in Detroit. Image: "The Chosen"/YouTube.

Dallas Jenkins, director of The Chosen - the all-time crowdfunding champion among media projects - seemed to be on the way up in Hollywood. The son of Jerry Jenkins, writer of Left Behind, he had some directing credits to his name and had worked with Christian actors like Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Sorbo when, in 2016, a big break came his way.

Jenkins was on staff at a church near Chicago and a top Hollywood executive approached him about doing a series of faith-based movies over the course of the next 10 years. He was from a production company that specialized in horror flicks, but saw financial potential in the Christian genre. An odd match, but Jenkins was game. He even was open to having the WWE join the project...yes, those are the pro wrestling folks.

Dallas Jenkins on set. Image: "The Chosen"/Instagram.

It seemed like a perfect setup. The horror company and wrestling outfit would put up the money and Jenkins and his church would maintain control of the content. So with that deal in place, he made the 2017 faith-based film The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.

Never heard of it? Unfortunately, you are not alone: almost no one else has either, wherein lies the problem. The movie bombed at the box office, bringing in just $2.3 million against a production budget of $2 million.

It was a devastating blow for Jenkins. During a recent appearance at Northridge Church in Detroit, he explained that the opening weekend's ticket revenue made it clear his ten-year deal was dead, shattering his expectations about a blossoming career in the movie business.

"In two hours, I went from being a director with a very bright future, who'd finally made it in Hollywood, to a director with no future."

Jenkins found himself at "an extreme low point," crying and praying with his wife. But God impressed two things on her heart: the miracle of Jesus' feeding of the 5,000 and a seemingly obscure idea that God "does impossible math." Neither spouse knew quite what to make of it at the moment, though that would soon change.

Jenkins was still up at 4:00 AM considering the disasterous open of his film when he got a social media message from an acquaintance. It said, "Remember, your job is not to feed the 5,000, it's only to provide the loaves and the fish." The acquaintance did not know about the earlier conversation between Jenkins and his wife, so Jenkins asked why he had sent the message. The response was, "I don't know. God just told me to tell you that."

And the Lord was not done working miracles in the life of Dallas Jenkins. That whole "impossible math" issue became clear later when he and some partners decided to crowdfund The Chosen. Jenkins thought that approach would never work and they'd "be lucky to raise $800." Was he ever wrong. The campaign shattered the previous crowdfunding record for a film, which was $5.7 million, drumming up a staggering $10 million from 19,000 people! The whole experience proved life-changing for Jenkins, deepening his trust in the Lord.

Earlier this year, he released the first half of season one of The Chosen to rave reviews, including from us. You can watch it via this link. The remaining four episodes are expected to come out some time around Thanksgiving.

We also recommend you check out Jenkins' entire appearance at Northridge Church. It runs about 11 minutes, but is well worth your time.


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