Why It Took Sound of Freedom 5 Years to Find Its Way Into Theaters

Why It Took Sound of Freedom 5 Years to Find Its Way Into Theaters
Image credit: Angel Studios

The movie was originally going to be released under the umbrella of a major studio, but it ended up being one of the biggest indie projects. Well, sharing the rights with Amazon.


  • Sound of Freedom is dedicated to the child rescue efforts of anti-sex trafficking activist Tim Ballard
  • When the movie was released in July 2023, it was an instant commercial success
  • But for five years after filming ended, Sound of Freedom struggled to find a theatrical release

In early July of this year, almost out of nowhere, the independent crime thriller with action elements Sound of Freedom was released in American theaters. Despite the fact that the film was directed by Alejandro Gómez Monteverde, an independent filmmaker who is just beginning to conquer the heights of Hollywood, the movie starred big names such as Mira Sorvino, Bill Camp and, of course, one of the most controversial figures in the acting industry, the performer of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel.

Despite all the buzz surrounding the film, including the fact that the story is a dramatization of the story of an equally controversial figure, anti-sex trafficking activist and primarily entrepreneur Tim Ballard, Sound of Freedom instantly won the hearts of many Americans, earning it the title of one of the highest grossing American independent films in just a few months.

However, the road to production was long and arduous, and it took five years from completion to release. So what was the reason for such a long production?

An Eight-Year Journey to the Big Screen

The idea to make a film about Operation Underground Railroad's work to rescue children came shortly after the anti-sex trafficking organization itself was founded. Work on the script began in 2015, eight years ago. Then Tim Ballard himself, the organization's CEO who is said to be responsible for rescuing hundreds of children sold into sex trafficking, asked to be played by Jim Caviezel. The actor, in turn, spent no small amount of time in Ballard's company, researching his history and activities.

The script was completed in 2018, and principal photography began and wrapped that summer. At the time, the original distributor was Fox Latin America, a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. But as we know, the company was acquired by Disney in 2019, and Fox immediately shelved the film, forcing the crew to take back the rights.

The search for a distributor has been long and difficult. According to various reports, the filmmakers even held talks with Netflix, but most studios, afraid of being associated with the right wing, refused to acquire the rights.

The only one to agree was Utah-based private media company Angel Studios, which was able to attract investors and acquire the worldwide distribution rights to the film in early 2023. As a result, Sound of Freedom was released on July 4.

Box Office Receipts

Despite the importance and relevance of the issue of how untold numbers of children are still exploited into slavery and sex trafficking, Sound of Freedom was very coldly received by critics because of its conspiratorial, religiously biased and sometimes chauvinistic implication. However, this did not prevent the film from becoming a huge commercial success, proving that a wide audience was interested in the story.

With a budget of only $14.5 million, the film grossed a worldwide total comparable to major Disney projects (except that they don't pay off because of their huge budgets). It grossed a staggering $245.7 million, making it the ninth highest grossing film of the year and one of the most successful indie films in history.

The eight-year journey to the big screen has clearly paid off, and not just financially. The film's success has also sparked renewed interest from major media companies. On December 26, the movie will be available in the U.S. via Prime Video. It is not known how much Amazon paid to acquire the rights, but this only shows the tremendous influence of the film.