France, the country that established its secular culture by law in 1905, has become the first country to show The Chosen in primetime on a top national television channel.
The eight episodes of the first season of the series about the life of Jesus are being screened on Canal+ in the lead-up to Christmas. Elsewhere, it is only available on its own app or on Amazon Prime.
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The buzz around the show – which is estimated to have been viewed more than 320 million times – has now increased with the fully dubbed French version being launched last week at a preview in cinemas.
Jonathan Roumie, the American actor who plays the role of Jesus, was in Paris for the international premiere and was blown away by the size of the crowd and its warm responses.
“What an amazing turnout. The 500 or so people that were in attendance (as well as the thousands online) laughed, cried and cheered,” he said on Facebook.
He told a reporter for CBN Christian news that he would never have predicted that The Chosen would appear on national television in France so soon.
“God is tilling the soil and sowing seeds for a fertile revival in this beautiful country,” he said.
Roumie spent the day before the premiere chatting with reporters and changing hearts and minds, according to an article in CHVN Radio.
“After a full day of interviews today with journalists from all over Europe it’s safe to say #France can’t wait to see The Chosen hit the airwaves on the national level; something of a miracle in what many reporters confessed was THE most secular/non-Christian country in all of Europe,” Roumie said.
After the screening, one attendee told CBN: “The intimacy between the disciples and Jesus, I like that very much.”
“It was different from other films about Jesus, it was just fantastic I can say,” said another.
As the CBM reporter walked down the Champs Elysee with Roumie, he asked the actor if the success and reach of the show made him want to pinch himself. Roumie said that his response was rather to “bow my head to the ground because I never feel that I’m worthy of the things that are happening as a result.
“The show has already been changing hearts and minds in France everywhere. Now that it’s in her native language, the game will change considerably. Of this I’m sure,” Roumie said
According to a story on the Info Chretienne website, Roumie expressed a desire that viewers could experience an inner change just like the disciples of Jesus, or at least have a new perspective of who Christ was and the people with whom he lived and shared his experiences.
The article explained: “The Chosen is a television series about Jesus that makes us discover the figure of Christ starting from the secondary characters present in the Gospels and making each one of them the heroes of a series with many ramifications. This series created by Dallas Jenkins, which received the largest crowdfunding there has ever been for a series (over $30M), is a huge success worldwide.”
It went on to quote an interview with The Christian Post in which Jenkins said: “In the beginning, our main audience was made up of believers, because it was they who were most attracted to a story about Jesus, but as the buzz has grown, we constantly hear atheists, agnostics, industry people – even friends and family of our casting teams, many of whom are not believers themselves, who simply liked the series as a classic series.”
Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers played in more than 1000 cinemas across the US earlier this month, becoming Fathom Events’ best-selling and most highly attended event in its history.