How Biblical epic ‘His Only Son’ became an unlikely box-office hit
His Only Son depicts one of the more controversial stories from the Old Testament – God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his own son. The feature film digs deep into accounts of Abraham’s life leading up to the birth of his son and then the agonizing burden of taking him to the place of sacrifice. With its rich, character-focused script, the film answers the persistent question: why would God command such a thing?
The movie was shot in the summer of 2019 with Nicolas Mouawad (a highly acclaimed TV star in the Middle East) as Abraham and Sara Seyed (from Netflix’s Young Wallander) as Sarah. The production was plagued by hold-ups – illness, budget constraints, and, of course, the pandemic – but when it opened on 31 March this year it became a critical and financial success.
Reaching the number-three spot in the U.S. box office on its opening weekend, it earned an ‘A’ on CinemaScore, a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and made $12 million in takings. The film also reached the #1 spot theatrically in Lebanon and is set to premiere in many other international regions, including LATAM, Europe, and South Korea.
The original idea for the project came from writer/director David Helling, who brought it to the film’s original producer, Michael Kaney. However, as Michael’s health declined, Roman Medjanov was brought on as a full-time producer to take the lead on the project and guarantee its completion.
Producing the film was not an easy task. Roman, along with David, who was directing, had to figure out how to put a biblical epic on screen with a micro-production budget. This began a year-long pre-production stage where locations were found and secured, necessary crew positions determined and hired, the cast discovered, production design built and sourced, and the schedule squeezed to fit the budget.
Once the production started, there was no room for error. Roman had to strategically stay ahead of every decision made on set each day, to ensure the film’s completion on time without overages. The film was shot in the desert areas north of Los Angeles and proved to be a trying production; scorching summer heat, remote locations only accessible by foot, night shoots, on-screen animals, stunts, and underwater photography.
During post-production, it became apparent that the crucial last scene had to be reshot. Roman had to find a way to acquire new funding and safely film the remaining shots in the midst of a pandemic when the world had shut down. Finally, after years of waiting patiently for the VFX to be complete, numerous distribution talks began in 2022. Thankfully, Angel Studios, the studio behind the smash hit The Chosen, came in with a promise of wide theatrical distribution and Easter-season release – leading the film to the success it has achieved so far.
Roman Medjanov is an accomplished producer; besides making an unlikely box-office hit with His Only Son, Roman’s first feature-length film was a documentary called Story of Sales. Made on a tight budget, the film had an incredible ROI of over $20 million. This was the first documentary to tackle the subject of sales, and it premiered at Dreamforce, known as “the Golden Globes of tech”.
In 2023, Roman had another film premiere, Rally, a feature-length documentary depicting one of the most controversial figures in modern San Francisco politics. It had its first screening at the San Francisco International Film Festival, introduced on stage by the city’s Mayor.
Roman is also a full-time producer at RockBridge Productions, where he produces commercials for brands including Spotify, KIA, Clorox, Salesforce, and UCSF. He’s won multiple awards for his commercial work, including a Pollie Award, an American Advertising Award, and two Telly Awards in the same year. He has also won awards from Venice Film Awards and Golden Gate International Film Festival for his narrative work.
Following the success of His Only Son, the sequel – currently under the working title Jacob – has been greenlit. The film is set to begin pre-production later this summer with an anticipated theatrical release date of Easter 2025.