“The Chosen” creator Dallas Jenkins shared an inside look at what fans can expect from the hit series’ highly anticipated fourth season, which will debut in theaters on Feb. 1, 2024.
Set in 1st century Galilee and Judaea, “The Chosen” brings the gospel to life through the eyes of “those who knew Jesus.” The director and co-writer of the biblical drama told Fox News Digital that there are dark times ahead for Jesus and his followers as the story builds toward Christ’s crucifixion.
“We’re getting closer and closer to what we know is coming,” Jenkins said. “There’s some extreme pain and sadness that’s coming soon in future seasons.”
He continued, “And of course, there’s also some extreme joy that’s coming. But on the way there, Jesus is getting increasingly sad because of the fact that things are getting increasingly heavy.”
“Not just because we know that he’s going to suffer, but he’s sad because the followers around him and the city that is the holy city — the city that is the birthplace of our faith — doesn’t get it.”
Jenkins noted that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). The phrase from the Gospel of John has been interpreted by many as a sign of Jesus’ human nature and compassion.
“That happens in season 4, and it happens more than once,” he said. “So, I know that’s not necessarily the best advertisement for a show to say that this season is going to be — to have a lot of sadness. But I think it’s an important part of the story.”
He continued, “Now, I will say also there’s lots of joy, there’s lots of laughter, there’s lots of miracles that we get to experience, which is one of the reasons why we want people to see this on the big screen and see this together. But season 4 is a time where the fact that the people around Jesus just aren’t quite getting it and the reason that he’s here does start to get bigger and more important in his ministry.”
“And the tension is mounting and the enemies are starting to close in,” Jenkins added. “As we reach the midway point of the show, we start to head towards what we all know is coming.”
WATCH: The Chosen creator Dallas Jenkins explains why it was important for season 4 to premiere in theaters
A total of seven seasons are planned for the series, which stars Jonathan Roumie as Jesus. During an 2020 appearance on “The Pure Flix Podcast, Jenkins said, “We’ve actually made the decision to give ourselves a framework and number of seasons.”
He added, “We feel like it’s enough for us to really tell the story accurately.”
Jenkins revealed that the sixth season will center entirely around Jesus’ crucifixion while the seventh and final season focus on the aftermath.
Last weekend, Jenkins and the show’s production company, Angel Studios, announced that all of season 4’s episodes will premiere exclusively in theaters with the entertainment content provider, Fathom Events, handling distribution in the United States.
Episodes 1-3 will debut on Feb. 1, 2024, and will run for two weeks. The rollout will continue on Feb. 15 with episodes 4-6 and the show’s final two episodes 7 and 8 to be released on Feb. 29.
After the show’s run in theaters concludes, the fourth season will premiere on “The Chosen” app, the Angel app, the show’s website and across streaming platforms, including Fox Nation, VidAngel, Netflix, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, Roku and BYUtv.
Last season, only the first and final episodes were released in theaters. In his interview with Fox News Digital, Jenkins explained why it was important for “The Chosen’s” entire fourth season to have a theatrical run.
“This season demanded it,” Jenkins explained. “You know, we were the first television show to ever kind of debut in theaters. And it’s certainly an entire season. But that’s not the reason. We’re not doing it just to be different. This is a show that’s on a bigger scale. This season is on a bigger scale.”
He continued, “The setting is bigger, the sets are bigger, the emotions are bigger. I feel like the show is maturing this season significantly. The depth of what we’re covering in the stories and the meaning of the stories is bigger than ever before. We want you to see it, and we want you to be immersed in it on a big screen with the surround sound.”
Jenkins also explained that providing audiences with the community experience of watching the series together in theaters was important to himself and others involved in the show’s production.
“This is something I think you should see with others if you can,” he said. “And of course, if you can’t, the show’s eventually going to be free and available everywhere on streaming and in your home. But I really strongly encourage people to see it in groups, to see it with other viewers on a big screen.”
Jenkins continued, “Because the things that we’re covering as we get closer and closer to Jerusalem demand it. And I can’t wait for you to have that experience and to say, ‘Yeah, TV shows typically aren’t seen in theaters, but this one just might need to be.'”
“The Chosen” started in 2017 as a crowdfunded project that went on to become a worldwide hit with 110 million viewers in 175 countries. In May, Lionsgate acquired the worldwide distribution rights for all seasons of the show. Angel Studios and Jenkins have plans to make “The Chosen” available globally in 600 different languages, per the Hollywood Reporter.
The television network The CW announced in June that it had picked up the first three seasons of “The Chosen.” The series debuted on July 16 and will continue airing through the fall until concluding its run with a Christmas Eve finale.
Filming on the fourth season of the show began in March and wrapped in July. “The Chosen” was one of the few TV series that was able to continue production during the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. Production was initially halted because some of the actors are members of SAG-AFTRA.
“The Chosen” later became the first TV series to be granted a rare waiver by actors’ union since its fourth season was entirely independently funded. In addition, the show is not affiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, against which the union is striking.
WATCH: ‘The Chosen’ creator Dallas Jenkins reveals what fans can expect in season 4
In his interview with Fox News Digital, Jenkins shared his thoughts on why it was important for the show to work independently of Hollywood and to continue relying on crowdfunding.
“When we started, I’ll freely acknowledge I don’t know that I had much of a choice,” he admitted. “I mean, there weren’t people lining up around the block to do a Jesus show, and there certainly weren’t people lining up around the block to do a show with me. I was coming off a huge box office failure and my career wasn’t exactly soaring. So I think there was a need to have it financed outside of the traditional system.”
He continued, “But I think it’s also important to remember that we must maintain control of the content. So even now, as we get into season 4 and our audience is thinking, ‘Hey, wait a minute, okay, Lionsgate is now handling distribution around the world. You’re on the CW, you’re on Amazon. Peacock, Netflix, This is spreading all over the place. Is that a good thing? Are you losing your roots? Are you going to abandon us?'”
“And we always say, ‘Look, the content will never change,’” Jenkins asserted. “The content isn’t being influenced. The fact that we started crowdfunded, the fact that we’re still relying on, you know, I don’t want to sound like a pitch person, but the generosity of the small group of viewers that choose to pay for it, that is so that we can control the content.”
“We must never allow the content to be influenced by money, to be influenced by partnerships. And so I think that’s the main reason why working or at least being financed outside the system works tremendously to our advantage and I think is essential.”
Jenkins also reflected on the immense popularity of the show at a time in which the importance of religion is declining in America. He explained that he believes that “The Chosen” has been so successful because it has universal appeal, whether the fans are religious or not.
‘My job isn’t to try to get people religious, My job isn’t to try to steer you towards a particular denomination. My job isn’t even to try to convert anybody. My job is to as accurately as I can, portray the authentic Jesus.”
He continued, “And if people around the world can know and hopefully love Jesus more as a result of watching the show, that’s awesome. What happens after that is not up to me. That’s between you and God. And we have cast and crew who aren’t believers.”
“We have many, many viewers who don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God, who believe that Jesus was a great historical figure. And they just love watching the show from that lens. That’s all fine. That’s not up to me to decide.”
WATCH: The Chosen creator says working outside of Hollywood, crowdfunding lets him control the content in show
During his interview with Fox News Digital, Jenkins weighed in on the resurgence of faith-based programming. He noted that religious TV series and movies “stand out” because they offer an alternative to the majority of the content that is produced by Hollywood today.
Jenkins pointed out that movies and TV shows with religious themes were part of mainstream entertainment in the past.
“You think of things like ‘The Ten Commandments,’ he said, referring to the 1956 film. “You think of things like ‘Chariots of Fire’ back in the early eighties. But even going all the way back to some of the earliest films ever made. Religious imagery, storytelling, stories about God, stories about the Bible were a natural part of popular culture.”
He continued, “There wasn’t this division between the faith-based world and the mainstream. They were all kind of intermingled, which I think was a healthy thing. Well, now I think one of the reasons that they’ve returned to becoming successful is almost the opposite. So now it feels like audiences that crave this kind of thing aren’t getting it from traditional platforms. They’re not getting it from from from movie theaters or from streaming platforms or from television stations.”
“A show like ‘The Chosen’ that gives them that, even if you’re not a believer,” Jenkins said. “You’re just like, ‘Hey, look, I think part of art should include multiple perspectives and multiple stories.’ And the most famous man in the history of the world, the most influential figure in the history of the world, is rarely portrayed.”
Jenkins told Fox News Digital that he believes that “The Chosen” has “come at the perfect time” since he said that many of Jesus’ teachings were “relevant 2000 years ago, and they’re relevant right now.”
“In fact, probably more relevant than ever,” he added. “And it might be hard to think of turning the other cheek. It might be hard to think of someone asking you to go one mile, and instead you go two. Might be hard to think of when someone asks you for their cloak, you give them two.”
Jenkins continued, “In a time of strife, in a time of tribalism, in a time of social media division where we’re actually — social media platforms and even streaming platforms are almost encouraging division, encouraging tribalism.”
“Focusing on forgiving, loving each other, or having grace for each other, and pointing people to a God who wants a personal relationship with you and is the Prince of Peace, as the Bible says, might be more relevant now than it ever has been.”