Authored by T.J. Muscaro via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Angel Studios’ anti-people trafficking movie, “Sound of Freedom,” has earned nearly seven times its original budget after only two weeks at the box office.
Shedding a light on a dark, shadowy world—especially child sex trafficking—the film’s commercial success comes years after its production, surviving a corporate merger, the COVID-19 pandemic, and reports of several screenings gone awry.
The picture owes a lot to two men who wanted everyone to see it—the producer and co-star Eduardo Verastagui and president of Goya Foods, Bob Unanue.
Opening on July 4, “Sound of Freedom” just surpassed $100 million at the box office, $85 million of which came from domestic theaters. It was made on a $14.5 million budget.
Starring Jim Caviezel (“The Passion of the Christ”) as former Homeland Security Agent and Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard, the movie is a call-to-action that tells the true story of how hundreds of people were rescued from human trafficking.
It saw an increase of more than 30 percent in audience attendance in its second week, and more than 10,000 verified audience members have contributed to its 100 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
It also continues to compete with mainstream movies with much lighter and more entertainment-focused subject matters and much higher budgets.
But this successful movie might not have ever seen the inside of a theater without the help of food giant Goya Foods.
“Sound of Freedom” had originally been ordered by 20th Century Fox with Mr. Verastagui already on as its producer and supporting role.
But the movie became one of the many Fox projects shelved after the merger with The Walt Disney Company.
“We helped him buy [“Sound of Freedom”] from Disney [and] became executive producers on that,” Mr. Unanue told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “It just so happened that several years later trying to get it distributed that Angel Studios appeared on the scene.”
Goya did not disclose the amount of money it contributed to the project.
The film was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite Disney releasing the rights, that theater-closing event would require its producers to wait a little bit longer.
Angel Studios acquired the distribution rights in 2023. He said Angel Studios was “a godsend” in turning around the movie for theatrical release in “just a few months.” Now, he said, they are in talks with Mel Gibson to do a series on human trafficking.
Caring About Victims
Tied to the completion and distribution of “Sound of Freedom” is the creation of Goya Cares, Mr. Unanue’s own program, which provides support to several nonprofits fighting child and human trafficking.
Working primarily on the homefront, it supports several charities already entrenched in the fight to end trafficking and provide safe houses for victims, such as Catholic Charities and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC).
It also works with the Monique Burr Foundation to provide lesson plans and educational awareness in schools.
“At the center of Goya Cares is a heart, and our heart reaches out to these victims of child trafficking and children who are suffering from mental illness so that they may have hope to live in a world where their life is valued, their freedom is a reality and their mind is at peace,” Mr. Unanue’s mission statement for the program states.
“They need to be reminded that they are precious gifts from God.”
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