Angel Studios

Angel Studios has stunned Hollywood again with another box office surprise hit. Angel Studios is the distributor of the Christian thriller, “Sound of Freedom,” which stars “The Passion of the Christ’s” Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard, a former agent for Homeland Security who leaves his job to rescue children from sex trafficking. The film was released on Independence Day and surprised critics by beating out “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” over the holiday, bringing in over $14 million, while “Indiana Jones” came second at $11 million. Even more impressive, “Sound of Freedom” was released in over 2,000 fewer theaters than its competitor. 

The film’s success continued during its first week of release, earning over $40 million during its first full weekend. This figure is even more outstanding given that the film’s budget was around $15 million. The film’s earnings have all been domestic as well, as it is currently only released in the US. Brandon Purdie, Angel Studios’s head of theatrical release, expressed his excitement over the film’s success. “As with our July 4th numbers, today’s numbers exceed our expectations, and we’re going to continue this momentum. We’re getting messages from all over the country telling us about packed theaters, sold-out theaters and spontaneous standing ovations for the film in numerous locations. Seeing this film has become a must, thanks to incredible word-of-mouth.” The studio offered a “Pay it Forward” option for the film, which has led to more tickets being sold as supporters of the film buy tickets so that others may go for free.

The film is not without its detractors. “Rolling Stone” issued a review of the film, calling it a “superhero movie for dads with brain worms.” The movie has been accused of being a “Q-anon” fantasy. Q-anon refers to a conspiracy theory that there is an elite group of people controlling the trafficking of children and that certain agencies are complicit in its proliferation. Speaking to “The New York Post,” Ballard said he was surprised at the accusations. “’ Sound of Freedom,’ at its core, is a message about protecting children from child-trafficking cartels. This movie wasn’t designed to be political,” he said. The film was originally helmed by 20th Century Fox. After Disney bought Fox, the movie was then shelved in 2018. Ballard stated he believed the country has grown too divisive since then. “Too much has changed [in our society]… As I assess it, I’ve never seen a time when the country has been more divided, and somehow the safety and protection of kids is in the balance.” Ballard’s work with his non-profit, Operation Underground Railroad, was lauded in 2015 by Forbes. There has also been some criticism of the film by anti-trafficking experts, who believe the film sensationalizes the realities of human trafficking while ignoring the real victims and circumstances behind their victimization. In another article by “Rolling Stone,” attorney Erin Albright, who worked in the Department of Justice’s anti-trafficking task force, noted that unlike what is portrayed in the film, most trafficked children know their abductors. She also stated that most victims are older than the very young children the film portrays. She worried that the film might give the public a “false perception” of what human trafficking actually looks like. 

The film’s detractors, however, have not kept it from being a success. To date, the film has now earned $175 million since its July 4 debut. The film has outpaced blockbuster-style features like Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” and Warner Bros.′ “The Flash.” Star Jim Caviezel pushed back against the politicization of the film. “This is just appalling,” he said. “The moral depravity is such now that people are willing to live with this. That’s why we did the film.”

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