The Battle Over ‘The Chosen’: Angel Studios Will Appeal the Ruling That Terminated Its Rights to the Hit Faith-Based Series

Angel Studios is planning to appeal an arbitrator’s ruling that ended its relationship with the producers of faith-based TV megahit “The Chosen.” The news comes as The Chosen LLC — the company behind the production of series — announced this week that the show’s Season 4 would exclusively stream on “The Chosen” app starting with the first two episodes on June 2.

In a statement, Angel Studios CEO Neal Harmon said it will “pursue the appeal provision that Angel and The Chosen agreed to as the process for resolving disagreements privately.”

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In a unique distribution model, “The Chosen” Season 4 was first released in theaters this February, where it scored big box office returns. But after that, the show’s TV premiere remained in limbo as Angel Studios and The Chosen LLC tussled over the season premiere plans.

“The Chosen” started in 2017 as a partnership between Dallas Jenkins and Angel Studios, originally financed through crowdfunding. The show was initially distributed via both Angel Studios and on “The Chosen” app, but last year the show greatly expanded its distribution footprint in secondary windows on outlets like The CW on broadcast, as well as streamers including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Peacock.

For Season 4, besides the theatrical run and “The Chosen” app premiere, the only other partner so far is BYUtv, which will streak episodes 24 hours after the “The Chosen” app, starting on Monday, June 3 at 7 p.m. ET. Linear broadcasts will follow each succeeding Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.  (Other distribution news is expected to follow, including a return to The CW.)

In a video statement, creator/exec producer Jenkins credited Angel Studios (which is also behind other faith-based hits like “Sound of Freedom”) for coming up with the crowdfunding and investment strategy for “The Chosen,” and helping get the show — which started as a indie short by Jenkins — off the ground. But then, he said, things got financially more complicated.

“Pretty early on, we realized the good news and the bad news of how this project would work,” Jenkins said in a video explaining his side of the dispute. “The good news was, working with Angel meant that I had complete creative control and ownership. Which was awesome. The tough news was we were responsible for immeasurably more than any of us had expected in order for this show to survive.”

Jenkins said about 40% of the funding went to “The Chosen,” while the rest went to marketing and Angel Studios. “If we were a one-off movie, and that were our share of income, that might actually be great,” he said. “But we were solely responsible for the financing of future seasons. Our company is responsible for and must pay for all of our legal stuff.”

Jenkins said he now has more than 60 employees at The Chosen LLC. “We’ve had to do almost everything from scratch,” he said. “It simply wasn’t sustainable. We had to shift.” Under a revised 2022 agreement, Angel Studios took over and expanded the old “The Chosen” app, while a new “The Chosen” app was focused on the show and fundraising for production. The previous season was available on both apps.

After that, Jenkins contends that Angel Studios “breached our contract on multiple occasions. To the extent that we believed it should be terminated.” According to Jenkins, the arbitrator sided with The Chosen LLC — which means, according to him, “‘The Chosen’s’ relationship with Angel Studios is effectively over. We take no pleasure in this. I want to thank Angel and the Harmon brothers for their extraordinary efforts in helping launch this show. But we came to the conclusion that we simply had no choice for the future of our company and our show. And the law agreed.”

In his own statement, Harmon argued that Angel Studios had sent more that $115 million in royalties to “The Chosen.”

“The team at Angel Studios is honored to have been instrumental in the founding and unbelievable growth of ‘The Chosen,'” Harmon said. “Our long hours of hard work over the last 8 years by teams of programmers, marketers, translators, licensing experts, and innovators have helped it become the worldwide success that it is today. Sadly, The Chosen, Inc. chose to terminate its agreement with us. We hope that one day the agreement will be restored.”

Meanwhile, as Variety reported in March, production is already underway on Season 5 of “The Chosen”: “We’re about to try to portray the most famous week in the history of humans, so the euphoria from the previous season never lasts long,” he said at the time. “The entire Season 6 will cover one day, so covering one week in Season 5 feels luxurious.”

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