Despite Hollywood executives trying to shelve it and mainstream media outlets trying to discredit it, the recently released film “Sound of Freedom” has upended the entertainment industry with resounding ticket sales, an enviable profit margin, and superb audience ratings.
The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, the UK Guardian and other media organizations have denigrated the movie, falsely attempting to tie it to conspiracy theorists.
People are simply ignoring media naysayers, packing the theaters, and showering the film with standing ovations, resulting in more than $40 million in box-office revenue over a six-day period, according to industry estimates.
Due to its summer release, the movie had been facing plenty of competition, which was coming from big-budget studio blockbusters intended to please popcorn-loving crowds.
“Sound of Freedom” definitely doesn’t conform to the template of a conventional summer release.
The plot of the movie is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, who founded a group to combat child sex trafficking.
Jim Caviezel, star of Mel Gibson’s 2004 cinematic masterpiece “The Passion of the Christ,” takes on the role of Ballard, a former government agent who stares down danger as he travels to godforsaken places on a quest to rescue enslaved children who have become victims of unspeakably horrifying crimes.
Summer studio releases typically have budgets that consist of hundreds of millions of dollars. However, with a tab of $14.5 million production costs were considerably less for “Sound of Freedom.”
On the Fourth of July, “Sound of Freedom” easily passed up the franchise studio sequel “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” The film had a release-day revenue of $14 million as compared to the $11.5 million that the “Indiana Jones” movie took in on its June 30 opening.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” had a budget of more than $250 million, while “Sound of Freedom” cost less than $15 million.
“Sound of Freedom” hit a very solid third place for the weekend with more than $18 million.
The public loves the film, giving it the highest CinemaScore rating possible, an A+. And movie fans who weighed-in on the Rotten Tomatoes website gave it a 100% rating.
In order to get more people to pay attention to the violations of human dignity with which the film deals, Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (the global mixed martial arts organization) posted a video on social media.
White spoke out on the importance of “Sound of Freedom” and the chilling nightmare of human trafficking. He was joined by legendary actor and director Gibson, who urged people to see the movie.
The White and Gibson video footage has gone viral, providing some powerful promotion for the movie.
During the video, White said, “There is a new movie out there called ‘Sound of Freedom’ and it’s about human trafficking. More importantly, about the trafficking of children. This is a disgusting, horrific issue that’s happening all around the world. And it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.”
The UFC CEO is utilizing his own company in an effort to get the word out.
“What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna give any of my UFC employees that want to see this movie free tickets to go and see,” White said.
He even urged other business leaders to take his idea and run with it.
“I would like to encourage other executives to do the same at their company,” he said.
In the section of footage in which he appears, Gibson focused on the public becoming more knowledgeable on the issue.
“One of the most disturbing problems in the world today is human trafficking,” Gibson said.
“Particularly the trafficking of children. Now the first step in eradicating this crime is awareness. Go see ‘Sound of Freedom,’” he encouraged.
In a unique approach to ticket sales, at the end of the movie while the credits roll on, Caviezel appears onscreen to ask the audience to go to the Angel Studios website and participate in the “Pay It Forward” program.
This program allows people to purchase tickets for others so that those who cannot afford the cost will be able to obtain a ticket for free.
Those who suffer from the scourge of human trafficking are crying out to be rescued.
May “Sound of Freedom” succeed in its mission of informing people and prompting action.
And may all of us be responsive to those who wait in the shadows for someone to care.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor.