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“The Chosen” Christmas Special Topping Box Office Has Greek Roots

The Chosen
Mary and Joseph try to find a place in which she can give birth in the new “Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers,” which broke records at the box office this past weekend. The Christmas film is a continuation of the streaming series The Chosen, which will start its third season in 2022. Credit: Facebook/The Chosen

A movie with two Greek cinematographers netted an extraordinary amount at the box office over the weekend, with The Chosen’s Christmas special grabbing what some reports are calling an “extraordinary” $9 million in the run-up to Christmas.

“Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers,” directed by Dallas Jenkins, with cinematography by Akis Konstantinopoulos and Petros Antoniadis, attracted impressive crowds all over the United States for its unique combination of gospel music and a Christmas special showing the drama of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

Forbes reports that the feature-length version of the popular streaming show presented in theaters from December 1 through 10 by Fathom Events, garnered what they called “miraculous” box office receipts this past weekend.

The Chosen Christmas special, streamed series filmed by Greek cinematographer Ioannis “Akis” Konstantakopoulos

Earning an incredible $4.1 million over its weekend showings from Friday through Sunday, Forbes extrapolated that altogether the film had brought in a total of $8.8 million from its domestic showings from Wednesday through Sunday. Their report states that this was “frankly bigger than many big-deal Oscar season contenders and/or would-be adult dramas… ‘Spencer’ and ‘Belfast’ had both earned over/under $6 million domestic over the last month.”

The Chosen, a streaming series whose popularity has grown exponentially since its debut three years ago, retells the Biblical story in an entirely fresh way, with cinematography and sets that lend a gritty realness to the well-known scenes of Jesus’ life.

Its creator, Dallas Jenkins, has been known to tell technicians to add “More dirt! More dirt!” to the faces of the actors in order to portray life in the first century as realistically as possible. This is definitely not your parents’ television show or movie about Jesus. But, as Jesus himself tells his apostles in the series, “Get used to different.”

Jenkins plans to have eight seasons of the show to portray the life and times of Jesus, including the Resurrection and the Acts of the Apostles. With two seasons already under his belt, the success of the series has led to the team building all-new sets for the third season. Filming is planned to resume in the Spring of 2022.

Last year, supporters who were integral to the creation of the show appeared in the scene depicting the Sermon on the Mount as the throng of adherents who went there to hear his message.

The filming took place just hours before the infamous Texas blizzard that paralyzed the entire state, but the people who call themselves “The Chosen Army” braved the frigid temperatures and finished the scene, which took place on a windswept mountainside.

Jonathan Roumie The Chosen
Actor Jonathan Roumie, who has roots in Greek Egypt, portrays Jesus in the popular streaming series The Chosen. Credit: Facebook/Jonathan Roumie

The Chosen actors Jonathan Roumie, George Xanthis, Stelios Savante also have Greek roots

For now, until the next season comes out, its army of dedicated fans are lapping up The Chosen’s Christmas special and the Gospel performances that are part of the theater experience, as presented in cinemas that are managed by Fathom Events.

The crowdfunding for the streamed series has been the most successful to date for any project; viewers, who can watch the series for free on its app or online, are encouraged to “pay it forward” so that others can view it — and so that new seasons can be funded.

The Chosen is the first-ever multi-season series based on the true stories of the gospels of Jesus Christ.

The first two seasons of the show have been viewed a total of 160 million times.

The series portrays Jesus in the eyes of those that met and followed him, including Mary Magdalene, who battled demons to do so; Simon/Peter, a strong-willed fisherman whose personal faults are so like many of our own, and Matthew, a tax collector who was shunned by his family and community.

The cinematography is notable for its hand-held shots that portray the real-life difficulties, uncertainty and upheaval that was part of the lives of Jesus and his followers.

Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus in the series, also has Greek roots since his father is a Greek man from Egypt. He has modeled the accent he uses in the show after his father’s soft Egyptian dialect.

Other Greeks who have major parts to play in The Chosen’s Christmas special and the ongoing series are Australian actor George Xanthis, who grew up in Sydney, who portrays John, and Stelios Savante, who portrayed Moses in an early episode.

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