Angel Studios released the feature-length film “His Only Son” earlier this spring and the film had an impressive showing. It earned a No. 3 spot in the box office and it also earned its investors a significant payout.
In a press release sent to the Deseret News, Angel Studios said the film, funded via 2,024 crowd investors, helping to raise $1.235 million in under 100 hours. These investors funded the film’s theatrical release on over 2,000 different big screens in five different countries. On opening weekend, the film had an estimated $5 million debut.
Since then, the film has continued to generate revenue and investors will receive a 120% return. Neal Harmon, CEO and co-founder of Angel Studios, said, “We’ve seen this happen for the investors who made ‘Dry Bar Comedy’ possible and again with those who invested in ‘The Chosen.’ We’re so thrilled, but not surprised, that those individuals who funded the P&A for ‘His Only Son’ are seeing a return.”
The movie was filmed in the deserts of California and it sets the events of Genesis 22, where Abraham has been asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, parallel with earlier biblical narratives of how Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah, as well as Sarai’s struggles with infertility and Hagar and the Abrahamic covenant. The storylines are unified by themes like covenant and personal sacrifice.
During the film, Isaac doesn’t know what’s happening, but Abraham and the audience do. Abraham struggles with the command to sacrifice Isaac. The film was released on March 31 ahead of Easter and has positive critical and audience scores.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 82% score among critics and a 96% for the audience category. Critic Alan Ng said, “The film faithfully tells Abraham’s story along with a very Christian ending and top-notch indie storytelling.”
Will ‘His Only Son’ have a sequel?
It’s possible. Director David Helling, at the premiere of “His Only Son” in Vineyard, Utah, said he would like to do a series of feature films on stories from the Old Testament. Currently, Angel Studios is gauging interest in a sequel to “His Only Son,” which would be called “Jacob” and follow the account of Jacob with a special focus on redemption.
Is the Angel Studios method working?
Crowdfunding television shows and movies is common in Hollywood, but there’s something different about the Angel Studios approach — they follow the North Star.
In its mission, Harmon said, “And we believe if we build a home for creators and communities to connect, specifically those who align with our North Star, Angel Studios will become known for fulfilling our universal human need for hope and light.”
Their model is simple. Investors have the ability to buy into productions and potentially receive payouts from their investments. Angel Studios also gauges crowd interest in productions before launching full-blown campaigns for the productions.
For instance, right now there are a few productions in which Angel Studios said they’re gauging interest before raising money for production. One of them is called “Truth & Conviction,” which follows Helmuth Hübener, a Latter-day Saint who led a resistance to the Nazi party and was executed.
Another project is “Jacob,” which would be the sequel to “His Only Son.” Angel Studios said, “Just like ‘His Only Son’ retold the story of Abraham and Isaac, this film will explore the lives of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and show the part they played in God’s plan of redemption.”
The company also has films currently in progress for which it is raising funds. There’s the movie “David,” which is an animated film, similar to Disney or Pixar style, about the biblical story of David. The previous rounds already funded for this project were $25.9 million, according to the website.
But what Angel Studios is best known for is the hit series “The Chosen.” This series, a dramatization of the life and ministry of Jesus, has raised millions of dollars for its planned seven seasons. Kirk Cameron said about the series, “I think you will love it! It is just beautifully done, and it captures the spirit.”
A lot of Angel Studios content shows people of faith in positive lights, which may be one of the keys behind its success. There’s some evidence of disillusionment toward Hollywood and Angel Studios might be able to convince that audience to watch its content instead.
So far, Angel Studios has had success in unifying viewers of different faith backgrounds.
“The Chosen” in particular has an audience of people with varied faith backgrounds and has attracted the attention of prominent faith leaders. Trent Toone reported for the Deseret News, “Playing the role of Jesus in ‘The Chosen’ has allowed actor Jonathan Roumie to meet several prominent Christian leaders, including Pope Francis. Roumie hopes his authentic human portrayal of the Savior fosters unity during these discordant times, he said when recently featured by Christianitytoday.com.”
At the “His Only Son” premiere, I spoke with people who were evangelicals, Latter-day Saints, Catholics and of other faiths as well. It’s possible Angel Studios might have what it takes to unify people of faith.