a still from Sound of Freedom

Child trafficking drama ‘Sound of Freedom’ opens to more than $11 million

With a rare opening on Tuesday, “Sound of Freedom” (Angel Studios), a drama starring Jim Caviezel as a real-life savior of children from traffickers, grossed about $11 million – just under the day’s total for “Indiana Jones and the Destiny Quadrant” (Disney), screened in an additional 2,000 theaters.

Another difference: “Indiana Jones” often played on multiple screens. Based on spot checks of the theatre, “Freedom” was shown mostly on single screens, often with smaller capacities, and saw sold out shows. The result was a stark contrast in average movies per theater: “Indiana” was about $2,600 in 4,600 theaters, while “Freedom” saw about $4,600 in 2,600 theaters.

Originally produced by Fox International and later shelved by Disney, director Alejandro Monteverde and producer Eduardo Verástegui (best known as executive producer of the 2019 anti-abortion drama “Unplanned) shot the film in 2018 in Cartagena, Colombia.

“Freedom” is now distributed by Angel Studios, based in Provo, Utah, which specializes in “wholesome” content. (It offers the Christian, comedy, drama, documentary, and children’s entertainment genres.) The film’s reported budget is around $15 million.

The opening, impressive under all conditions, was augmented by group sales (with the added marketing hook of raising the initial gross) and block sales to churches, with some reported to be giving away tickets to congregants.

“Christ’s passion”Newmarket Films/20th Century Fox

Propelled by Caviezel’s proven appeal to faith-based community (“The Passion of the Christ”), this is an elevated example of films finding passionate (and lucrative) audiences outside of mainstream cinematic media. “Freedom” isn’t even listed on review aggregator website Metacritic, which normally lists all but the most obscure releases.

Earlier this year, Angel released “His Only Son,” based on the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac. With a reported budget of $250,000, it grossed $12 million.

In one day, ‘Freedom’ grossed more full national runs than recent award contenders like ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, ‘TAR’ and ‘Women Talking’. Its gross is almost double that of the current independent hit “Past Lives” (A24).

“Indiana Jones” is currently hovering around a domestic $84 million, boosted over the past two days of the holiday. A better test of whether it can bounce back from its weak early results will come during its second weekend.