A controversial new TV series after eight years in the making has become a surprise hit at the box office.
On Independence Day (July 4) in the US, a brand new movie starring The Passion of Christ star Jim Caviezel was released – and made enough money to place third behind popular films including sequels Indiana Jones and the Wheel of Fate.
Impressively, it achieved this feat when it was released in half as many screens as the new Indiana Jones film, marking Harrison Ford’s final adventure as a celebrity.
The movie is titled The Sound of Freedom, is from director and co-writer Alejandro Monteverde and was shot in 2018, the release was delayed due to Covid. The film became a success after distributor Angel Studios launched a crowdfunding to raise enough money to market the film.
In just two weeks, crowdfunding – confirmed by Caviezel’s Passion of Christ director Mel Gibson – succeeded in hitting the studio’s target of $5 million (£3.8 million), contributed by 7,000 people.
The film is said to be based on true events, with Caviezel’s character embarking on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. The lead role was inspired by anti-trafficking activist Tim Ballard, whose story has been questioned by researchers since 2020.
In the past, Ballard has credited his organization Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) for having saved thousands of victims of human trafficking.
However, according to American Crime Magazine investigative reporters Lynn Packer and Damion Moore, Ballard elaborated on the details of the story described in The Sound of Freedom.
Caviezel herself has been controversial in recent years. In 2021, the actor supports several claims of a conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
The favored far-right theory, allegedly put forward by someone who viewed secret government documents, circulated in 2021 and made baseless claims that pedophiles worship ghosts. Devil is working for the US government.
Ballard has criticized reports that the film is related to QAnon, saying: Fox News: “They have no connection to the actual story. It’s very difficult to make that connection when it’s actually based on a true story.”
In 2020, he also proposed the belief that QAnon shares unfounded theories, saying The New York Times: “Some of these theories have allowed people to open their eyes, so now it’s our mission to fill the space with factual information so that the truth can be shared.”
However, Caviezel didn’t help promoting the film at a QAnon-affiliated conference in Oklahoma in 2021. When he joined, he said Ballard is now “saving kids” from “adrenochroming,” a Conspiracy theories claim that traffickers suck the blood of children to harvest a life-enhancing substance called adrenochrome.
When asked to explain in more detail, Caviezel said: “If a child knows he is going to die, his body releases this adrenaline. Those who do that, will have no mercy for them. Then he appeared to combine the theory with the events in the film, calling The Sound of Freedom “one of the best movies I’ve ever made in my life.”
Despite the controversy, The Sound of Freedom are attracting a large audience – and have grossed $41.7m (£32.3m) from a budget of just $14.5m (£11.2m).
Brandon Purdie, head of theatrical distribution at Angel Studios, said the numbers “beyond our expectations”. Angel Studios also denied the notion that the film supports conspiracy theories.
A UK release date has yet to be announced. The film also stars Mira Sorvino and Bill Camp.
independence Contacted Operation Underground Railroad and Caviezel for comment.