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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Sound Of Freedom’ Ahead Of Big-Budget ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘The Flash’ And ‘Scream VI’ In U.S. Box Office


Sound of Freedom—the surprise anti-sex trafficking hit that’s been marred by controversy over its lead actor’s QAnon ties—is the 15th biggest movie of 2023 at the domestic box office so far, ranking ahead of some notable titles by major Hollywood studios, and it’s even starting to outperform the big-budgeted, Tom-Cruise led Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.

Jim Caviezel stars as Tim Ballard, a former government agent, in ‘Sound of Freedom.’ (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Sound of Freedom, starring Jim Caviezel and inspired by the real-life anti-sex trafficking pursuits of former government agent Tim Ballard, has grossed $124 million at the domestic box office just three weeks after its July 4 opening, according to Box Office Mojo.

The film has surpassed the total 2023 domestic gross of other big-name productions like Scream VI ($108 million), The Flash ($107 million), M3GAN ($95 million) and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves ($93 million).

Once expected to be a box office hit—and produced on a more than $200 million budget—The Flash underperformed because of its star Ezra Miller’s legal and behavioral troubles, the lack of a traditional marketing campaign because of Miller’s controversies and mixed critical reviews.

The film has outgrossed Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One at the domestic box office so far by just $6 million, according to Box Office Mojo, though Mission: Impossible—which was produced with a reported $291 million budget—opened more than a week after Sound of Freedom.

Despite its later opening date, Mission: Impossible has fallen behind Sound of Freedom in daily domestic box office totals: On Sunday, Sound of Freedom grossed $6.7 million, ahead of Mission: Impossible’s $6 million.

Sound of Freedom ranked third at the box office last weekend with $19.8 million, just edging out Mission: Impossible but coming in well behind Barbie and Oppenheimer, which debuted with $162 million and $82 million, respectively, assisted by the viral “Barbenheimer” social media hype.

Sound of Freedom is still far behind the biggest domestic earners this year so far, including The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($574 million), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($375 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($359 million).

Also Read: ‘Sound of Freedom’: Why is This Surprise Box-office Hit Causing Controversy?

Since Sound of Freedom has only been released in the United States, other major studio films have made more in worldwide gross sales. Mission: Impossible has raked in $370 million globally so far, with international markets accounting for 68% of its total gross. The Flash ($268 million), M3GAN ($180 million) and Scream VI ($169 million) have all grossed more than Sound of Freedom worldwide.

Sound of Freedom has a 71% Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score, attracting both praise from Variety for shining a spotlight on “of the crucial criminal horrors of our time,” as well as fierce criticism from Rolling Stone for being a gateway to “far-right conspiracy theories.” Its box office performance has been aided by a viral social media push from right-wing figures, including former president Donald Trump, who held a screening at his New Jersey golf club and posted about the film on Truth Social, as well as several conservative personalities, including Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Sean Hannity, who interviewed Caviezel and Ballard. The film’s distributor, Angel Studios, also launched a pay it forward program through which fans can purchase a ticket for others who may not be able to afford one. This accounted for $2.6 million of Sound of Freedom’s $14.2 million July 4 opening, IndieWire reported. Some social media users and media outlets, however, have reported some theater screenings indicate all tickets have been reserved while few people show up to see the film. The Guardian investigated Times Square screenings, finding that one 3 p.m. showtime indicated 28 seats went unsold, according to Fandango, but 45 seats in total were left vacant.

Sound of Freedom has been the center of controversy over Caviezel’s ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which promotes the idea Hollywood elites and Democrats are Satan worshippers who run a global child sex trafficking ring. Caviezel has reportedly spoken at multiple QAnon events in which he promoted the baseless adrenochrome theory, which posits these elites are kidnapping and murdering children to harvest the “adrenochrome” chemical from their blood, which QAnon believers allege they ingest to stay young. The adrenochrome theory has been debunked by members of the scientific community, who have noted adrenochrome does not have any rejuvenating properties. The theory has roots in antisemitic tropes, namely blood libel, the centuries-old myth that Jews drain the blood of Christians or other non-Jewish children to use in religious rituals, and it exploded in popularity early in the Covid-19 pandemic when conspiracy theorists alleged celebrities were no longer able to access adrenochrome because of the lockdown. Ballard promoted the adrenochrome theory on Jordan Peterson’s YouTube channel, alleging it is taking place in parts of Africa. Angel Studios has denied any connection between Sound of Freedom and conspiracy theories or politics. Sound of Freedom has also attracted controversy because of investigative reports that suggest Operation Underground Railroad, Ballard’s anti-sex trafficking organization, exaggerated its role in rescue missions, and some law enforcement agencies told Vice their work with OUR was “insubstantial.”

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