The sound of freedom“, a religious thriller directed by the star of “The Passion of the Christ” Jim Caviezel, becomes an unlikely box office savior. The faith-based child sex trafficking film has raised an impressive $40 million after six days of release.

angel studios opened “Sound of Freedom” last Tuesday, raising $14.2 million on Independence Day. The film earned an additional $18.2 million between Friday and Sunday, enough to rank third at the domestic box office behind “Insidious: The Red Door” ($32.6 million) and “Indiana Jones and the Clock Face.” Destiny” ($26.5 million). It’s also playing in 2,850 North American theaters — a smaller footprint than those two studio movies (playing in 3,188 theaters and 4,600 theaters, respectively).

“As with our July 4 issues, today’s numbers exceed our expectations, and we will continue to build on this momentum,” Brandon Purdie, head of theatrical distribution at Angel Studios, said in a statement. “We’re getting messages from across the country telling us of packed houses, sold-out houses and spontaneous standing ovations for the film in many places. Seeing this film has become a must, thanks to incredible word-of-mouth.

Purdie also thanked AMC, Cinemark and Regal, which are three of the nation’s largest movie theater chains, for “having the courage to release ‘Sound of Freedom’ during the busiest movie season of the year.”

It’s one of the biggest openings of late for a faith-based film, according to Comscore, which has Kelsey Grammar-directed “Jesus Revolution” this spring ($15.8 million), 2019’s “Breakthrough” starring Chrissy Metz ($11.2 million) and the Erwin brothers’ 2018 musical drama “I Can Only Imagine” (debuting $17.1 million) as other top turnouts for films that address audiences religious.

Hollywood rarely supports films aimed at this particular demographic. But it’s a sector that has proven reliable, propelling the low-budget “Jesus Revolution” to $53 million, enough to rank among the top 25 domestic releases of the year. “Sound of Freedom” is looking to eclipse those box office returns within days, so long as the momentum continues during the week.

“Sound of Freedom” was originally set at 20th Century Fox and wrapped in 2018 before Disney acquired the studio the following year and shelved the film. It’s now being independently distributed by Angel Studios, which recently released the Old Testament-inspired “His Only Son” this spring and spent $15 million on the Caviezel-directed action-thriller.

Religious and conservative media groups have rallied behind the film, which is partially crowdfunded. Utah-based Angel Studios has made other unconventional efforts to promote the film, including an app that lets people buy and then give away tickets to those who can’t afford the price of admission. . About $2.6 million in opening day sales were made through the “Pay It Forward” app, which the company designed as a way to raise awareness about child trafficking.

Alejandro Monteverde wrote and directed “Sound of Freedom”, based on the true story of Tim Ballard (Caviezel), a former government agent who embarks on a mission to save children from sex traffickers in Colombia. Mira Sorvino and Bill Camp co-starred.

The first round of ratings were enthusiastic, awarding the film an “A+” CinemaScore. It’s the only movie playing in theaters right now with such a high rating. The majority of ticket buyers were women, while more than 50% of spectators were over 45 years old.

“The film has support from white conservative political groups, but a third of the audience is Hispanic,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. “The Latin American-based inspiration, action and story appeal to a diverse audience, not just ethnically,” he adds, “but age and gender.”

Reviews have been mostly positive towards the film, which holds 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman praised “Sound of Freedom” as “a compelling film that authentically shines a light on one of the pivotal crime horrors of our time, one that Hollywood has mostly shunned”.

“Sound of Freedom” has also sparked some controversy, with critics accusing the film of embellishing the reality of child exploitation and fueling QAnon conspiracy theories. Rolling Stone called “Sound of Freedom” a “QAnon-tinged thriller”, designed to “appeal to the conscience of a conspiratorial boomer”.

Box office analysts say it’s remarkable that ‘Sound of Freedom’ managed to break into the top five on the national charts in the heat of summer – a time of year traditionally reserved for the poles. big budget action, superhero sequels or escape adventures.

“The strong response to faith-based films reflects demand from an underserved audience who crave entertainment that reflects their values ​​and beliefs,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Comscore. “Such content can indeed find an enthusiastic audience, generate a solid box office and impressive profits for their investors.”