At the end of his weekly public audience – and after unexpectedly taking a phone call in front of the cameras and the thousands of pilgrims who’d gathered in the Paul VI Hall to listen to him – Francis had his usual meet and greet with those who had listened to him preach. Among those waiting were actor Jonathan Roumie and producer Dallas Jenkins, the face and the mind behind The Chosen, the largest crowd-funded media project of all-time, a multi-season series about the life of Christ that went live on Easter 2019 and has captured over 300 million viewers world-wide.
The show’s two seasons are freely available worldwide through a dedicated app, YouTube and the streaming service Peacock. The first eight episodes were funded through the donations of 19,000 people who helped raise the $10 million needed. The “sells” of that first season funded the second, and money is now being raised for a third. “Sales come from licenses, the pay it forward campaign, through which people can help others around the world to watch the show, DVDs, and merchandise related to The Chosen,” said Neal Harmon, the CEO of Angel Studios. “We’ve had people from every corner of the world expressing gratitude, because they somehow know about the show. It takes you by surprise: Most people don’t watch it the first time they hear about it, but once they do, they can’t stop talking about it!” he told a small group of Rome-based news outlets, including Crux.