"Sound of Freedom," the new film from Angel Studios that's taken the box office by storm, is based on the true story of Homeland Security agent Tim Ballard and his work to save sex trafficking victims.
The concept of the film isn't new — we've seen it before in movies like "Taken." It's the studio and fundraising techniques behind the film that are gaining attention, using a pay-it-forward method and encouraging audiences to buy tickets for others who may not be able to afford the film.
That makes it hard to know how many people are actually seeing the movie. But the numbers don't lie, with the film bringing in $40 million dollars in its first week.
"For independent movies right now, especially since the pandemic, that is very, very strong," said Jeremy Fuster, box office reporter at The Wrap. "It's on pace to be one of the highest-grossing indie films alongside films like "Everything Everywhere All at Once.'"
The Christian movie team behind the flick isn't new to the genre or finding its niche among a Christian audience. Part three of its series "The Chosen" earned $8 million in its opening week.
"They've built such a buy-in among fans of 'The Chosen' — among evangelical groups — that when they hear Angel Studios is going to have a thing in theaters, they'll come out to see it," Fuster explained.
"Sound of Freedom"'s lead, Jim Caviezel, is also popular in some conservative-leaning circles and has a following from those who remember him for his role as Jesus Christ in the 2004 film "Passion of the Christ." However, "Sound of Freedom" has been panned by some critics who say it feeds into QAnon theories of underground sex trafficking rings run by elites. Caviezel has also espoused similar views.
Still, there's a market for those willing to invest in faith-based entertainment.
"Lionsgate, for example, formed a partnership back in 2020 with the Kingdom Story Company, which is a faith-based film studio from Jon and Andrew Erwin," Fuster said. "They had a movie called "I Can Only Imagine" and it's been a very lucrative project."
"If you release it in 2,800 theaters and select parts of the country and make it at the right price tag, you're going to get a really strong return on investment every time," he added.
Pure Flix, the streaming service aimed at faith and family, has found success with its religiously themed movies and love stories. The Great American Family channel has taken on the movie market too, securing a deal with Hallmark favorite Candace Cameron Bure. And popular producer Tyler Perry got his start with the biblically themed "Madea" plays and movies, turning them into a billion-dollar success story.
"Sound of Freedom" will face some competition this weekend when another action thriller, "Mission Impossible," hits the big screens.
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