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Streaming Delays and Legal Issues (The Chosen Season 4 Controversies)

Updated: May 31

Dallas Jenkins recently announced that the release of The Chosen Season 4 on streaming was going to be delayed due to legal issues. This announcement - and the decision to release all of Season 4 in theaters to begin with - has generated a bit of controversy and speculation among fans of The Chosen, which I will summarize and respond to below.


The Theatrical Release of The Chosen Season 4

In Fall of 2023, the creators of The Chosen announced that the entirety of Season 4 would be released in theaters before then being released online for free through The Chosen app. Many fans of the show welcomed this decision and were excited to be able to enjoy a theatrical experience for all eight episodes.


Still, other fans balked at the decision to release Season 4 in theaters. Some couldn’t find a local theater that was showing Season 4. Others missed out on the initial window for Episodes 1-3 and were frustrated that they couldn’t catch up. For still others the cost of going to the theater three times in a single month was steep - especially if they were already contributing to the Come and See Foundation. Finally, there were some who expressed anxiety about the lack of a clear date/schedule for when Season 4 would be released online.


Dallas Jenkins announcing the delay to the release of The Chosen Season 4 on streaming
Dallas Jenkins announcing the delay to the release of The Chosen Season 4 on streaming

I sympathize with how the theatrical release of Season 4 caused some fans to feel left out or anxious. In our highly interconnected world, FOMO (fear of missing out) can be a very intense experience. And yet, as Christians, we’re called to judge with right judgment and not simply based on our personal feelings. The creators of The Chosen are obligated to release the show based on what they think will work best in the big picture and not according to the preferences of a subset of fans. All fans will eventually be able to watch Season 4 online for free. Originally, the time between the theatrical release and the online release was only going to be about a month - a very short theatrical release window, designed to get the show to all fans as quickly as possible. Even though the time between the theatrical release and the online release will now be longer, it appears that the creators of the show are trying to make it as short as possible - while also providing alternative avenues for fans who are unable to afford going to theaters (more on that below).


It’s also important to remember, as Dallas points out in his announcement, that producing a show of the caliber of The Chosen is very very costly. I personally applaud the creators for experimenting with an innovative way to generate funds and buzz (even beyond the fanbase) while at the same time providing fans with a unique viewing experience. The strategy may not have been ideal for everyone. As I pointed out in my initial response, however, we should resist the modern spirit of entitlement and instead take such delays as opportunities to practice patience and gratitude.


The Delay of The Chosen Season 4 & Crazy Speculation

If you haven’t watched Dallas’ announcement, I suggest doing so, because I won’t attempt to summarize or repeat every detail. The gist of it is that the release of Season 4 onto streaming has been delayed for an indefinite (but hopefully short) period of time while some legal issues are being sorted out. In the meantime, the creators of the show are hoping to extend the theatrical release (eventually for all eight episodes, with discounted prices) and open the door for churches and prisons to show Season 4 as well. Moreover, when Season 4 finally is released, they intend to release two episodes per week in order to make up for the lost time.



I’ve seen a lot of slander and gossip in response to Dallas’ announcement. Some have (without basis) claimed that Dallas is lying and that the delayed online release is an intentional ploy to force fans to see Season 4 in theaters. Others have made the wild claim that “Hollywood” is forcing Season 4 to remain in theaters because it hasn’t made enough money. I don’t like to repeat slander, gossip, conspiracy theories but I am doing so here only in order to point out how ridiculous these claims actually are. The only piece of “evidence” that I’ve seen pointed to is the fact that the online release plan for Season 4 had to be adjusted. There is no other basis. It's all just unfair speculation. Such talk may be the way of this world (especially the conspiracy-theory-filled corners of the internet) but it is not the way of Christ and his church (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:20, Ephesians 4:38).


What are the legal issues delaying The Chosen Season 4?

In his announcement, Dallas didn’t explain the nature of the legal issues that are delaying the release of The Chosen Season 4. Some have taken that as a sign that he’s hiding something. Before posting this blog, I reached out to Dallas Jenkins, but he (understandably) was unable to comment on the legal issues facing The Chosen. Anyone who knows anything about the legal system recognizes that lawyers typically tell their clients to avoid publicly commenting on a legal issue while it is ongoing. The reason is simple: it’s easy for non-lawyers to misspeak and say something that exacerbates their legal issues.


Update: In an earlier version of this post, I proposed a theory about what the legal issues might be that fit with publicly available facts and that supported the truth of what Dallas said in his announcement. On further reflection, I felt convicted that I was coming too close to engaging in gossip. While I was offering my theory with good intentions (to push back against those accusing Dallas of being a liar and against the crazy alternative theories out there), I’ve decided it’s not my place to pry into such matters.

Update 2: Turns out my original theory was spot on. Newsweek confirmed that the legal issue is between Angel Studios and The Chosen LLC just a few hours after my original post. Since it's been confirmed publicly, I don't mind linking to it.


That conflict might arise around a show that was funded in such a novel manner and achieved such great success is not a surprise and should have no bearing on our enjoyment of the show. The inner-workings that go into such a massive endeavor are complicated and fraught, and it’s normal for conflicts to arise due to misunderstandings and differing interpretations of legal rights and obligations. It doesn’t mean that some people are greedy and evil and the others are pure and innocent. There’s almost certainly a complicated story that can be seen from multiple perspectives. That’s why it’s better for such matters to be settled through a legal process and not through the speculative theories of social media influencers.


At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate that the online release of The Chosen Season 4 has been delayed, but there’s no reason for us to construct wild theories or to accuse Dallas of being deceptive. There are explanations for what’s happened that are completely in line with what Dallas has said - and that are far more plausible than the alternative narratives being circulated. The underlying legal issues are probably complicated and should not be reduced into a simplistic narrative of good vs. evil. No matter how such issues are resolved, we can still be gracious toward those involved and grateful for the show. There's no reason why such issues should prevent us from enjoying, supporting, and promoting what may be the best season of The Chosen thus far.


 

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I'm delayed in reading this but I guess that just goes with the season (haha). I was very pleased when things were settled and Dallas was finally able to tell the main parts of the story and gist of the conflicts. Until that point I was somewhat bothered that 2 Christian groups would be suing each other... but felt I should wait and see what it was all about. So, I was extremely pleased to find that was not the case, that there were no lawsuits, and that they handled their differences in the method that is most biblical and honored the arbitration results. I was also pleased that he still spoke well of Angel Studios. I'm still a …


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