"Sound of Freedom," Paul Schrader, "Barbie"

When “Barbie” was sold out, Paul Schrader saw “Sound of Freedom” instead.

Not everyone got a ticket to “Barbie” this weekend, and that included Paul Schrader, who shared on Facebook over the weekend that all showings of the Gerwig-directed film in his area were sold out Saturday and Sunday. Schrader reported Sunday that he instead saw “Sound of Freedom,” the child trafficking drama from Angel Studios starring Jim Caviezel. And Schrader joins the many spectators present for the film, which in just over two weeks since its release has grossed 124 million dollars.

The director of “Master Gardener” and “First Reformed” shared his thoughts on what is perceived by some as a conservative and faith-oriented film. Caviezel stars in the true story as government agent Tim Ballard, who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia.

“SOUND OF FREEDOM. Interesting movie, more interesting phenomenon. It’s simplistic, schematic, and effective in the Hollywood tradition of “message” films, but it’s not “Christian” per se. It’s also a film about the white savior, the Hispanic beings rescued or punished by the blue-eyed hero who gets in his way. I watched it with a mostly Hispanic audience who applauded the next few words, not seeing the irony in that,” Schrader wrote.

He also reflected on the innovative production and distribution model employed by Provo, Utah-based Angel Studios, which relies primarily on crowdfunding to finance its features, giving investors back-end profits in what essentially amounts to owning shares in a film. Angel’s Pay It Forward ticketing paradigm — meaning you can buy tickets for strangers who don’t have the financial means — has fueled the films’ viral box office campaign.

“Also fascinating is Angel Studios. Formerly an LDS Group of Provo, it is now a very successful production company with physical studios and a production slate. And movies to make money. In its third weekend Sounds of Freedom returned 10x its investment. Angel’s films are funded by a revenue-sharing subscriber base. Angel has created a self-sustaining tribal model that makes films that are intelligent and serious. Hollywood heads are scratching,” Schrader wrote.

Some of the excitement for the film has been generated by QAnon, and its star Caviezel has long espoused controversial viewpoints in line with QAnon theories. “Sound of Freedom” is Angel Studios’ second theatrical release after “His Only Son” during Easter weekend 2023. Also using the Pay It Forward method of ticketing, the Bible release grossed $12 million on a budget of $250,000.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Barbenheimer’s world, Schrader had seen “Oppenheimer” before and called it “the best and most important film of the century.”

Last Saturday was also the director’s 77th birthday.