The movie Sound of Freedom was something of an enigma this past year. It wasn’t backed by a major studio, but it made a major impression on the industry. At the time of writing this Sound of Freedom is the tenth highest grossing film of 2023.
When you discuss this film there are three different points of view to look at; the movie itself, the marketing behind it and the controversy. I won’t spend a lot of time on the controversy as that’s the least interesting aspect to me.
The film is a drama starring Jim Caviezel. It depicts the life of Tim Ballard who is involved in rescuing children from child trafficking. It is an independent movie and while not perfect by any means it’s a strong movie with very good performances.
The marketing of the film is something that will be studied for some time as no major studio backed this film. Disney had it and a group called Angel Studios purchased the rights and released it. They had promotions of buy one get one free tickets so you could bring someone to a screening with you.
Monday July 10th I went to a preview screening of Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One and saw that with hundreds of theatregoers in attendance. That same night, at the same theatre, hundreds of people were showing up to see Sound of Freedom. What makes that so impressive is I never saw a trailer for that film on tv or in a theatre. The marketing, in the beginning stages, was all word of mouth.
The movie has outperformed Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Fast X and the afore mentioned Mission Impossible just to name a few.
As time went on it became somewhat political with both sides of the aisle arguing over the film and its contents.
Years ago, I reviewed a film called Unplanned and the controversial film had a hard stance against abortion. I can appreciate why that would be a hot button issue but I’m still perplexed as to why people would see a film about child trafficking as contentious.
My fascination from this film doesn’t lie with any political undertones but the simple fact that a film with a budget of $14.5 million, that was filmed 5 years ago had such an impact on the industry.
In a time where studios are trying to get the secret sauce to have bigger audiences there is something to the madness or genius that is the promotion of Sound of Freedom. It is looked upon as one of the most success independent films of all time.
It has now taken on a life of its own as some refuse to see it because of the political ties and some question why it wasn’t released by Disney to begin with.
The bigger question is, how can other independent films use a grassroots marketing style to elevate and promote their films?
Sound of Freedom is a very good movie and while it won’t make my Best Films of 2023 list it shook up an industry and proved there is more than one way to get an audience to a theatre and that is why I find it fascinating.