Led by acclaimed producer and director Jon Erwin and former YouTube and Netflix executive Kelly Merryman Hoogstraten and backed by more than $75 million from institutional and individual financiers, the studio will create premium TV shows and movies that appeal to the massive but underserved faith and values audience.
LOS ANGELES and AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Industry veterans from entertainment and technology have launched The WONDER Project (WP), heralding a bold transformation in values-driven entertainment. The independent studio is founded by accomplished film producer, Jon Erwin, and is overseen by former Netflix and YouTube executive, Kelly Merryman Hoogstraten. With more than $75 million raised in seed and Series A funding from industry titans Sovereign’s Capital, Lionsgate, Powerhouse Capital, United Talent Agency, and Jason Blum, among others, WP is poised to craft high-quality, hopeful entertainment tailored for a substantial faith and values-oriented audience.
The venture draws on the unique talents of faith-based entertainment pioneer, Erwin, and Merryman Hoogstraten, an executive with a proven track record of building successful online and streaming strategies at global platforms. Erwin – celebrated for hits such as the recent Jesus Revolution, American Underdog, and I Can Only Imagine – is the founder of WP and its Chief Content Officer. Merryman Hoogstraten is CEO of the ambitious new venture.
“The dream of The WONDER Project is to create a trusted brand that serves the faith and values audience globally with movies and TV shows they didn’t know were possible,” Erwin said. “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.”
“I believe entertainment sits upstream from culture,” said Merryman Hoogstraten. “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.”
In addition to Erwin’s success with Jesus Revolution and the triumphs of other creators with whom WP will soon announce alliances, this venture will build upon the success of numerous film and TV shows that have played to this audience over the past 20 years, including the global television phenomenon, The Chosen; and films like The Passion of the Christ, Heaven is for Real, I Can Only Imagine, War Room, Miracles from Heaven, Soul Surfer, and most recently, The Sound of Freedom, among others.
These projects’ accomplishments are a testament to the hunger for such storytelling; however, the mainstream, legacy entertainment industry has been inconsistent in its backing of values-centric films and TV shows, leaving an opportunity for WP to fill the demand from this global audience. Investors have recognized the potential, placing substantial capital behind The WP’s strategy to create enduring entertainment that will make audiences feel a sense of wonder.
One of the most critical WP creative alliances is with Dallas Jenkins, creator of The Chosen. Jenkins serves as a special advisor to WP, as well as a large shareholder, and will be an executive producer on some of The WP’s content.
“There’s nothing quite like the power of an affinity audience that is underserved with programming options,” said Jason Blum, an investor for The WP. “I look forward to the many high-quality stories this talented team will curate and produce for the faith and values-based audience across the globe over the coming years.”
Considering the enormous global potential of the faith and value-based audience – there are more than 2.4 billion Christians globally and many more identifying as religious or spiritual – The WP offers a significant opportunity for its partners and stakeholders. Research has indicated that viewers prioritize quality and authenticity, and this well-capitalized venture is gearing up to raise the standard in this domain.
“The WONDER Project is tapping into a massive, global need. The faith and values audience is global, and the quality shows being developed will meet the long-standing and growing consumer demand,” Powerhouse Capital’s Managing Partner Ian Doody said. “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.”
Moelis & Company, LLC and NextGen Capital acted as placement agents for the Series A funding, and Eisner LLP acted as legal advisor to the company.
About The WONDER Project
Established by pioneers in the industry, The WONDER Project is a beacon for values-driven content. With a commitment to unparalleled quality and genuine narratives, WP aims to serve a global audience yearning for content that mirrors their core principles. For further details, including bios and photographs, visit www.thewonderproject.com.
SOURCE The WONDER Project
Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/entertainment-and-technology-industry-leaders-launch-the-wonder-project–an-independent-studio-ushering-in-a-new-era-for-values-based-films-and-tv-programming-302007880.html