EXCLUSIVE: Former DreamWorks exec Mark Sourian has been appointed as President of Production for the Angel Studios Original The Chosen, with plans to build out an entertainment “universe” from the hit faith-based series.
The largest fan-supported entertainment project of all time, Dallas Jenkins’ The Chosen is an episodic drama series about the life of Jesus Christ (Jonathan Roumie) and the calling of his initial disciples. The crowdfunded show available via Angel Studios’ website and app, as well as its own dedicated app, has been translated into more than 50 languages, garnering over 510M views across 175 countries. The show licensed by Angel Studios to the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, Peacock, Fox Nation and Walmart has also taken a handful of episodes and a Christmas special to movie theaters, in concert with Fathom Events, seeing them collectively garner around $34M at the domestic box office.
Sourian comes to The Chosen as it launches production on its fourth of seven guaranteed seasons, with Jenkins and his writers currently mapping out Season 5. The veteran industry figure has most recently been working as an independent producer, producing the Aaron Paul-led Need for Speed and exec producing titles like Echo 3, Delivery Man, A Dog’s Purpose and Ghost in the Shell. He joined Universal as an EVP in 2015, there overseeing production on The Fate of the Furious, prior to that overseeing production on titles like The Ring and House of Sand and Fog as Co-President of Production at DreamWorks.
Sourian’s hiring follows The Chosen Inc.’s appointment of Nathan Davis as Head of Marketing Strategy and Operations on the heels of his 15+ years at Disney leading in-theater marketing efforts on Marvel, Star Wars, Disney and Pixar releases. The pair joins a team that also includes former MGM exec Katherine Warnock as Vice President of Original Content; Tiny Horse alum Kyle Young, who oversees Global Distribution; and former Walmart brand manager Jeremiah Smith, who serves as Vice President of Marketing.
Sourian told Deadline that he was introduced to The Chosen by UTA, which reps the show’s key creatives Jenkins and Roumie, admitting that he was initially “a little skeptical” of the series. “Because I had had my own, without knowing the show, prejudices of, ‘Oh, this is a kind of faith-based show,’” he said, “‘perhaps a Trojan horse for a kind of religious, right-wing sensibility.’”
What he found instead was a show of strong “production value” and “vision,” to Sourian recalling that of greats he’s worked with like Steven Spielberg and Mark Boal. “Right away, I could tell that there was a real emotional connection that Dallas had to the material,” he shared. “And the more that I got to know Dallas and the more that he talked rather secularly, frankly, about the show, referencing shows like The Wire and West Wing, that really intrigued me in terms of making me feel like, ‘Wow. Really, truly, this is a guy who has a vision, and this is a show that is an elevated show, and a show that isn’t trying to proselytize, and is something different than what’s been out there before.”
While Sourian acknowledges that it’s unusual for a President of Production to be set for one single series, he describes the move as appropriate for a project that’s “firing on all cylinders” both online and even in theaters, particularly given that it already boasts a seven-season commitment and can be used as a launching pad for further faith-based project across film and television.
“When you look at the Bible, not to sound crude, but it is a universe — not to describe it as the Marvel universe or the DC universe. But it is a universe with iconic figures and characters, and I include the Old Testament and the New Testament,” said Sourian. “There is a desire to tell a lot of different biblical stories, all of which are primal stories that have been told in one fashion or another, but have never been told specifically as they relate directly to the Bible.”
Continued Sourian, “there’s a sense of an ever-increasing bandwidth for us to tell other stories that are about the Bible…So, I think my role and my title suggests a bigger universe and suggests the desire of The Chosen Inc. to delve into more of that.”