“Sound of Freedom” is the biggest success story of the summer outside of “Barbenheimer,” with $182 million in box office for the child-trafficking thriller — but its director isn’t taking part in the spoils.
Alejandro Gómez Monteverde sold his back-end participation to get the film finished, which means the filmmaker didn’t get rich off the stunning theatrical success.
“Like any independent film, we ran out of money,” Monteverde told TheWrap. “I decided to sell my points to the producers so we could finish the picture.”
“I don’t even want to think about what those points might be worth,” he added.
The movie took a challenging path to the box office. Produced in 2018 by Sentient Entertainment (which also produced “Map to the Stars” and “Taken”), the picture ended up in limbo after initial distributor Fox Latin America was purchased by Disney. Producer Eduardo Verástegui bought back the rights and approached Angel Studios, already a market leader in faith-based cinema following the crowdfunded success of “Christmas With the Chosen.”
On the way to its stunning box office haul, controversy emerged over everything from ticket sales to association with the dangerous QAnon political cult. The movie’s dramatic backstory paints a portrait of the complicated questions that arise when a passion project becomes a surprise smash.
“We initially would have been thrilled to be an even more successful version of ‘Jesus Revolution,’ maybe $70 million-$75 million domestic,” Angel Studios President Jordan Harmon told TheWrap.
That would have been at the upper tier of the previous decade’s more mainstream faith-based hits like Sony’s “War Room” and Lionsgate’s “The Shack.” Instead, the $14.5 million picture opened with $40 million over a long July 4 holiday weekend. Its subsequent legs placed it above the most recent sequels to “Mission: Impossible,” “Indiana Jones” and “Fast & Furious.”
The movie centers on a federal agent (Jim Caviezel) who goes rogue overseas to rescue a victim of child trafficking, a topic that resonated with the underserved faith-based audience. It’s based on the true story of Tim Ballard, who worked as an undercover DHS agent busting child-porn rings and became an anti-human trafficking activist.
A “Sound” sequel?
Now the question is whether there will be a sequel.
The life rights Monteverde procured for Ballard only extended to “Sound of Freedom.” A representative for producer Mike Ilitch Jr. told Variety that he had signed a deal with Ballard “for exclusive life rights” and that the pair recently began developing a follow-up as well as a potential television show.
Angel Studios, which can only bank on being the original’s distributor, would rather talk about how that movie is doing.
“We’re seeing historic momentum for ‘Sound of Freedom’ around the world, and we’re practically lining up new countries every week,” said Harmon. “Angel is focused on our campaign for this film, we’re not focused on the next one yet.”
Banking on the art
Monteverde marvels at his film’s reach: “People were recommending it to me without knowing I made it.”
Whatever his misgivings might be about missing out on “Sound of Freedom” profits, he seemingly holds no ill will against Angel Studios. It is distributing his next film, “Cabrini,” another true-life faith-based drama, this time about Italian nun Francesca Cabrini. The film will open theatrically nationwide on March 8, 2024. He may not be making the sequel to “Sound of Freedom,” but Monteverde is taking another run at the formula that made it work.
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