A controversial new drama that took eight years in the making has become a surprise hit at the box office.
A brand new film will be released on Independence Day (July 4th) in the USA The Passion of Christ Star Jim Caviezel was released — and made enough money to take third place behind high-profile releases including sequels Indiana Jones and the dial of fate.
Impressively, he accomplished this feat while being shown in half as many theaters as the new Indiana Jones film, which chronicles Harrison Ford’s final adventure as a popular character.
The movie titled sound of freedomis directed and co-written by Alejandro Monteverde and was filmed in 2018 with a release delay due to Covid. The film came to life after distributor Angel Studios launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to market the film.
The crowdfunder started in just two weeks – supported by Caviezel’s Passion of Christ Director Mel Gibson – managed to hit the studio’s goal of $5million (£3.8million) donated by 7,000 people.
Supposed to be based on true events, Caviezel’s character embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. The lead is inspired by anti-human 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), with rescuing thousands of human trafficking victims.
However, acc American crime journal For investigative reporters Lynn Packer and Damion Moore, Ballard embellished details about the story depicted in sound of freedom.
Caviezel himself has caused controversy in recent years. In 2021, the actor supported certain claims of the conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
The far right-backed theory, allegedly formulated by someone who had seen confidential government materials, circulated in 2021, making unsubstantiated claims that devil-worshipping pedophiles were working for the US government.
Ballard has criticized reports that the film is linked to QAnon FoxNews: “They make no reference whatsoever 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 expressed a belief that QAnon shares unsubstantiated theories, and revealingly so The New York Times: “Some of these theories have allowed people to open their eyes. Our job now is to flood the room with real information so the facts can be shared.”
However, Caviezel didn’t exactly help when promoting the film at a QAnon-affiliated conference in Oklahoma in 2021. While attending, he said that Ballard is currently rescuing “children” from “adrenochrome,” a conspiracy theory that says human traffickers suck blood from children to extract a life-enhancing substance called adrenochrome.
When Caviezel was asked to elaborate, he said, “When a kid knows they’re going to die, their body releases this adrenaline. There will be no mercy for those people who do that.” Then he seemed the theory to mix with the events in the film and called for it sound of freedom “One of the best films I’ve ever made in my life.”
Despite the controversy sound of freedom attracts large audiences – and has grossed $41.7m (£32.3m) on a budget of just $14.5m (£11.2m).
Brandon Purdie, head of theatrical distribution at Angel Studios, said the numbers “exceeded our expectations”. Angel Studios also denied claims that the film supported conspiracy theories.
A UK release date has yet to be announced. The film also stars Mira Sorvino and Bill Camp.
The Independent has reached out to Operation Underground Railroad and Caviezel for comment.