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‘Sound of Freedom’ is a box office hit. It has an unusual ticket strategy


By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

New York (CNN) — “Sound of Freedom,” a movie about a US federal agent who quit his job to chase child sex traffickers, has become what is, by the numbers, a summer blockbuster, taking in around $125 million in theaters since its debut. But it’s relying on an unusual strategy to boost ticket sales.

The box office this weekend was dominated by “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” releases, which both succeeded through more conventional ticket sale means, in which those who are planning to view the film that day purchase tickets to see it. But “Sound of Freedom” film distributor Angel Studios, which has made faith-based films such as “The Chosen,” a series about Jesus, has a strategy which it says allows people to buy tickets for strangers to claim and then use to watch at theaters for free.

The movie has been embraced by the right, and Angel’s marketing strategy taps into support from viewers. Angel says the tickets go to help people who can’t afford to see the film.

More than 10 million tickets have been purchased through the app, called Pay It Forward. During the movie’s July 4 opening, “Sound of Freedom” scored $11.5 million from direct box office sales and $2.6 million, or over 20%, from Pay It Forward ticket sales.

Daniel Loria, the editorial director at, said Angel Studios’ Pay It Forward strategy had never been implemented for a release on the scale of “Sound of Freedom.”

“Sound of Freedom” stars Jim Caviezel, who has a history of pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory, which through a complex and tangled web alleges that leading Democrats and American cultural figures were stealing children and that only former President Donald Trump could save them. Caviezel has said this film has “nothing to do with QAnon.”

At the end of the film, Caviezel comes on screen to appeal to viewers to buy more tickets so other people can see it.

Far-right politicians like Texas Senator Ted Cruz have also encouraged their followers to see the film.

“Wow. Wow. Wow,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas wrote on Twitter of the film, urging supporters to see it.

The New York Times reported that former president Donald Trump hosted an event featuring a private screening of the movie.

Allegations of empty theaters

On social media, theatergoers have posted about sold-out “Sound of Freedom” showings online that are empty in theaters, alleging the ticket sales are more about artificially inflating the movie’s box office returns.

Loria said it was not possible to verify whether this was happening on a large scale.

AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron has pushed back on claims that people are not actually seeing “Sound of Freedom.”

“More than ONE MILLION people have watched Sound of Freedom at AMC Theatres. More than at any other theatre chain on the planet. Yet people falsely claim otherwise. It is so bizarre,” he said on Twitter on July 12.

A spokesperson for Angel Studios told CNN that these posts could be tied to group ticket sales.

When a business, group or church buys a group of tickets, they sometimes don’t get everyone from their group to show up or show up on time, the spokesperson said.

For individual tickets, Angel Studios’ system creates a code that allows another person to redeem a free ticket directly from theaters. Each person redeeming a code agrees that they will use the ticket.

“We have audited this system and have found no signs of abuse,” the spokesperson said.

Angel Studios does not release what percentage of ticket sales come from customers buying other people tickets.

Jeff Bock, a box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, said it would be helpful to have more transparency on the deals Angel Studios made with theaters to get a more accurate read on the actual box office numbers. Without it, it’s hard to know whether ticket sales match the audience or some theaters are empty.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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