Aug 5, 2023 • 50M

The Studio Exec Behind ‘Sound of Freedom’

Angel Studios' CCO Jeffrey Harmon on the business model behind the surprise hit

 
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Sonny Bunch
Sonny Bunch hosts The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, featuring interviews with folks who have their finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry during this dynamic—and difficult—time.
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GRASSROOTS SUCCESS Jim Caviezel in summer’s surprise hit, Sound of Freedom. (credit: Angel Studios)

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Sonny Bunch is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post, The Bulwark culture editor, and member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association.

Last month I bought a ticket for Sound of Freedom, curious about the year’s most unexpected box office sensation. As the credits rolled, star Jim Caviezel came onscreen and gave a speech to the audience about the importance of theatrical exhibition, telling audience members they can “pay it forward,” and buy a ticket for someone who otherwise couldn’t afford to go. When the QR code came onscreen, a woman lingering by the exit pulled out her phone, scanned the code, and did just that. I’ve never seen anything like that in a movie theater. Today Jeffrey Harmon, Angel Studios’ chief content officer, talks about his studio’s unique business model, how they decide what to fund, and whether or not the pay-it-forward model could work for other types of movies, like civil rights dramas. We discussed how the system impacts box office (only tickets that are requested and redeemed count toward the total, which as of this writing stands at $156 million domestic) and what plans are for international distribution. Finally: I know there’s controversy around this project. For reasons I lay out here, I think it’s a fairly serious misstep to describe this as “the QAnon movie,” though I understand why some have misgivings given Jim Caviezel’s past statements. But this episode is about the film’s box office, and today, I hew closely to that topic.

Transcript here.

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