A Film About Child Trafficking Takes on Summer Blockbusters

The thriller The Sound of Freedom, which stars Jim Caviezel as a federal agent fighting child traffickers, won’t be the biggest box office hit of the summer. But it may be the least likely.

The film was the third most-watched film in North America over the weekend, following the huge success of its distributor Angel Studios’ streaming series “The Chosen” about the life of Jesus. Its $19.7 million weekend box office gross was second only to the horror film “Insidious: Red Door,” which grossed $33 million in its first week, and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate,” which grossed $27.4 million in its second week. .

“Sound of Freedom” is based on a true story, in which Caviezel plays Tim Ballard, a US Department of Homeland Security agent who investigates pedophiles. (Ballard later founded the anti-trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad, became a frequent appearance on Fox News, and was appointed by former President Donald J. Trump.) Federal Advisory Board about human trafficking. )

some critics To tell The film appeals to the QAnon movement, which claims false conspiracy theories accusing progressive elites of being pedophiles. The Guardian called it a “QAnon-adjacent thriller”.rolling stone article states that it “has value as a recruitment tool due to its mainstream accessibility.” “Anyone who’s seen this movie knows it’s not about conspiracy theories,” Angel CEO Neil Harmon said in an interview. I didn’t deal with it,” he added.

Caviezel, who played the title role in Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, apparently alluded to QAnon when promoting the film on Stephen K. Bannon’s podcast, saying, “A big storm is coming. I have,” he said. QAnon supporters referred to the hormone “adrenochrome,” which the elite claimed to be harvesting from victims’ children.

A representative for Caviezel did not respond to a request for comment. So was Operation Subway.

While The Sound of Freedom isn’t explicitly faith-based like other Angel projects, such as recent films about biblical patriarchs The Chosen One and The Only Son. , has become the latest example of an entertainment industry success story targeting humanity. An audience that is often ignored in Hollywood.

The film was self-produced for $14.5 million and grossed more than $41 million at the box office from its domestic release on Tuesday, July 4, to the end of last week, according to comScore. Comscore media analysts said Sunday was slightly more profitable than Saturday, which is unusual. Angel Studios’ unconventional “Pay It Forward” program, which allows backers to purchase tickets for people who may not be able to see the film online, may have helped. . So could its status as political football. Endorsed by right-wing critics and condemned by left-wing critics.

Based in Provo, Utah, Angel relies on crowdfunding to propel its projects forward. More than 7,000 “angel investors” have raised $5 million in return for revenue-sharing to help market “Sound of Freedom,” according to the company.

“We believe that the Hollywood gatekeeper system model of selecting content doesn’t mean that people choose what they want to see,” said Jared Guisey, senior vice president of global distribution at Angel.

Producer of “Sound of Freedom”. Eduardo Velasteguiand its director and co-writer Alejandro Gomez Monteverde are from Tamaulipas, Mexico. Velasteghi said in an interview, and most of the funding came from Mexican backers. The film was shot in 2018, but its original distributor, Fox Latin America, canceled the release after Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in 2019 (a Disney spokesperson said the studio was planning to release the film in 2019). said he knew nothing about it). The film was picked up by Angel earlier this year. describes itself as a values-driven studio.

Velasteghi, the producers acknowledged the polarizing surrounding the film. He even promoted it on Bannon’s podcast. But he said he hoped political disagreements would be shelved in favor of the film’s anti-trafficking message.

The film, which is just over two hours long, makes no mention of specific QAnon doctrines. Riding on the beat of many typical action movies, it portrays related issues such as images of human trafficking and child sexual abuse as grim and escalating, with the international affluent class among its consumers. suggests that there are Notable actors include Bill Camp and Mira Sorvino, who have small roles as Ballard’s wife.

During the closing credits, Caviezel told the audience that the filmmakers wanted The Sound of Freedom to be “the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of 21st century slavery.” He added, “I believe this film has the power to make a big step forward in ending child trafficking.”

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