With a rare Tuesday opening, ‘Sound of Freedom’ (Angel Studios), a drama starring Jim Caviezel as a real life savior of children from traffickers, grossed $11,563,200 – just under the day’s total for ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate” (Disney), which played nearly 2,000 more theaters to just under $11.7 million.
Another difference: “Indiana Jones” often played on multiple screens. Based on spot checks of the theatre, “Freedom” was shown mostly on single screens, often with smaller capacities, and saw sold out shows. The result was a stark contrast in average films per theater: “Indiana” was about $2,543 in 4,600 theaters, while “Freedom” saw about $4,400 in 2,634 theaters.
Angel also reported that its “Pay It Forward” promotion brought in an additional $2,679,000 thanks to users buying gift tickets for others for future use. As per standard industry practice, such revenue should be counted as it is used. With that added, the film’s daily gross exceeded $14.2 million, which would make it No. 1 for the day.
Originally produced by Fox International and later shelved by Disney, director Alejandro Monteverde and producer Eduardo Verástegui (best known as the executive producer of the 2019 anti-abortion drama “Unplanned) shot the film in 2018 in Cartagena, Colombia.
“Freedom” is now distributed by Angel Studios, based in Provo, Utah, which specializes in “wholesome” content. (It offers the Christian, comedy, drama, documentary, and children’s entertainment genres.) The film’s reported budget is around $15 million.
The opening, impressive in all conditions, was augmented by group sales (with the added marketing hook of raising the initial gross) and block sales to churches, with some reports to give away tickets to the faithful.
Prompted by Caviezel’s outspoken appeal to faith-based community (“The Passion of the Christ”), this is an elevated example of films finding passionate (and lucrative) audiences outside of mainstream cinematic media. “Freedom” isn’t even listed on review aggregator website Metacritic, which normally lists all but the most obscure releases.
Earlier this year, Angel released “His Only Son,” based on the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac. With a reported budget of $250,000, it grossed $12 million.
In one day, ‘Freedom’ grossed more full national runs than recent award contenders like ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, ‘TAR’ and ‘Women Talking’. Its gross is almost double that of the current independent hit “Past Lives” (A24).
“Indiana Jones” is currently hovering around a domestic $84 million, boosted over the past two days of the holiday. A better test of whether it can bounce back from its weak early results will come during its second weekend.