“Sound of Freedom” dominates box office with tickets for strangers innovation

Sound of Freedom, the Jim Caviezel child-trafficking drama from faith-based distributor Angel Studios made $14.2 million in a single day when it opened July 4. 

The film’s real godsend is the ability for its fans to buy movie tickets for complete strangers. Angel Studios calls it “Pay It Forward,” in which you can buy a ticket for Sound of Freedom, pay for another one, and someone else can apply to redeem it if they don’t have the financial means. 

A larger group of people buying tickets in bulk, such as for a company or a church, can even redeem a portion of their tickets for free. The distributor says of its $14.2 million haul, $2.6 million came from people overpaying through those Pay It Forward ticket sales.

Angel Studios’ website boasts that over 200,000 individual contributors chipped in for additional tickets, with a goal of two million tickets sold in the first week. (That would represent the two million kids who are trafficked each year; Angel claims to have already hit 1.4 million tickets.) 

Jared Geesey, Angel Studios’ senior VP of global distribution, tells IndieWire the team had to scale up Angels’ servers in response to a wave of people who wanted to support the film after seeing it on the 4th.

The Pay It Forward model is more common in the superfan space, but Angel Studios uses it for direct-marketing outreach that raises awareness beyond traditional billboards and TV ads. With a chance to see a return on its investment, that group of investors is more likely to evangelise others to see it.

Sound of Freedom is Angel’s widest release to date on more than 2,600 screens. While the movie has some faith-based overtones, it’s not overtly religious. It even has a PG-13 rating due to its heavy subject matter, which leads analysts to believe the film is finding appeal beyond the core faith-based crowd.

The film’s success is a testament to the buying power of religious moviegoers, who helped propel this spring’s “Jesus Revolution” to an improbable $53 million at the global box despite the fact that the biggest star in that movie was Kelsey Grammar. Angel Studios’ equity crowdfunding and Pay It Forward models are designed to prove that their faith-friendly audience is more than niche.


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