The action-drama “Sound Of Freedom” is causing quite a stir right now with box office results that have surpassed all expectations. However, the surprising success is also giving rise to some bizarre incidents.
In the action drama “Sound Of Freedom,” Jim Caviezel, known for his role in “The Passion of the Christ,” portrays ex-Homeland Security agent Timothy Ballard. Ballard founded a non-profit organization called Operation Underground Railroad in October 2013 to combat human trafficking through various means, including activist education of politicians and the liberation of victims.
The real Timothy Ballard and his organization are not without controversy. He is accused of embellishing his participation in various missions, and the actions of the organization are highly debated. Nevertheless, the film itself, which had spent several years in Disney’s vault before being released by an independent distributor catering to Christian audiences, seems unaffected.
On the review aggregator site RottenTomatoes, “Sound Of Freedom” not only has a positive audience rating of 100 percent, based on more than 5,000 ratings, but the critics also gave it a 79 percent positive rating. This is noteworthy since films targeting Christian audiences often receive harsh criticism. While there have been only 28 reviews so far, mostly from smaller blogs, notable critics like Owen Gleiberman from Variety have also praised the film.
CONSPIRACY EVERYWHERE!? So, why is “Sound Of Freedom” generating controversy? It is likely less due to the film itself, which was produced by the traditional Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox before Disney’s acquisition, and more related to the current grassroots marketing campaign for its theatrical release. Despite initial tricks employed to boost box office earnings, the film surpassed all expectations.
Controversy arises when prominent figures like Jim Caviezel and Mel Gibson (who is not directly involved with the film) express their views on illegal human trafficking in YouTube videos. Their statements highlight the urgency of addressing this issue. However, some listeners draw connections to conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate, especially when Caviezel, in podcasts like Steve Bannon’s, claims personal knowledge of a billion-dollar business involving the trade of adrenochrome from tortured children—an integral part of the QAnon narrative. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to assume that everyone involved in the film endorses conspiracy theories.
THE BIRTH OF A NEW CONSPIRACY THEORY However, it is fair to say that people inclined towards conspiracy theories, or those who find interest in them, are particularly drawn to “Sound Of Freedom” and the grassroots narrative surrounding it. This is evident from some peculiar testimonials on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
In recent days, a new conspiracy theory emerged on social networks. Users claimed that during their viewing of “Sound Of Freedom,” the air conditioning had failed or the sound was set too low. This immediately led to the “suspicion” that the major cinema chain AMC was actively trying to hinder the film’s success. The birth of this new conspiracy theory was almost witnessed in real-time.
IS THE AMC CINEMA CHAIN EVIL? The truth is, independently distributed films like “Sound Of Freedom” usually face immense challenges in securing widespread theatrical releases. However, it was AMC that stepped in and showcased the film in the majority of its theaters across the United States, significantly contributing to its success. Distribution officials swiftly took action to address the rumors and protect AMC’s reputation.
To be frank, technical issues like malfunctioning air conditioners, low sound, or confusion over the assigned screening hall are not uncommon for moviegoers, especially in the United States, where the overall quality of cinema auditoriums, particularly in older and rundown multiplexes, can vary from what one might expect in Germany.
THE BOSS REPORTS PERSONALLY ON TWITTER Despite this, even the CEO of AMC, Adam Aron, felt compelled to personally address the allegations on Twitter.
Really bizarre FUD floating around Twitter that we are suppressing attendance for Sound of Freedom. Yesterday we showed that movie 3,000 times at our 570 U.S. theatres and more than 100,000 people watched it @AMCTheatres. Misinformation on Twitter is astonishing. Bots? Haters?
— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) July 8, 2023