One of the top filmmakers in faith-driven entertainment is teaming up with a former Netflix executive to launch a new independent studio, The Wonder Project, that has already raised $75 million.
The Wonder Project was founded by Jesus Revolution co-director Jon Erwin and former Netflix and YouTube executive Kelly Merryman Hoogstraten and is promising “stories that restore faith in things worth believing in,” according to its website. It has raised $75 million-plus in “seed and Series A funding from industry titans Sovereign's Capital, Lionsgate, Powerhouse Capital, United Talent Agency, and Jason Blum,” according to a Wednesday news release.
That same news release called it “a bold transformation in values-driven entertainment.” Dallas Jenkins, director and creator of The Chosen, will serve as a special advisor and will be a large shareholder, and also will be an executive producer on some Wonder Project titles.
Erwin told Christian Headlines the project has been a “dream” of his. He is the only director in movie history to earn four A+ CinemaScore ratings (Jesus Revolution, Woodlawn, I Can Only Imagine, and American Underdog.)
The Wonder Project, he said in the news release, will be a “trusted brand that serves the faith and values audience globally with movies and TV shows they didn't know were possible.”
“We will achieve this by giving the creatives dedicated to this audience (including myself) a level of freedom and resources they've never had before. This level of talent, combined with the power of the stories we are developing, is really inspiring! I can't wait for the audience to experience the things we are working on,” Erwin said.
Merryman Hoogstraten said the new studio will be transformational.
The news release promised a “new era for values-based films and TV programming.”
“I believe entertainment sits upstream from culture,” Merryman Hoogstraten said. “And today, the world needs a way to find common ground again. Here at The Wonder Project, our goal is to flood the world with hope. I am convinced we can make a difference by telling stories that restore hope in things worth believing in -- family, community, God, and America. We will do this at scale for a global audience that seeks faith and values-driven entertainment. And we will give the audience a brand they can call their own.”
Mainstream studios, the news release said, have been “inconsistent” in their “backing of values-centric films and TV shows,” thus “leaving an opportunity for WP to fill the demand from this global audience.” There are more than 2.4 billion people worldwide who identify as Christian, the news release noted.
“The Wonder Project is tapping into a massive, global need,” said Powerhouse Capital's Managing Partner Ian Doody. “The faith and values audience is global, and the quality shows being developed will meet the long-standing and growing consumer demand. We've been very impressed by the team at The Wonder Project, and we're confident in their vision for creating best-in-class programming for this vast global audience.”
Photo Courtesy: ©Lionsgate, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.