Disney Shelved Then Sold a Controversial Movie – It’s Now the Surprise Hit of the Summer

'Sound of Freedom' passes 'Indiana Jones' in domestic box office
Credit: Angel Studio

In 2019, The Walt Disney Company shelled out more than $71 billion to purchase 20th Century Fox. When it did, Disney gained the rights to a number of popular films and television shows, as well as the rights to movies and television shows that 20th Century Fox had in production. Disney went through everything to see what they wanted to hold onto, what they wanted to release, and what projects they wanted to sell. There is now one project that was sold by Disney that is making headline after headline.

20th century fox

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Sound of Freedom, starring Jim Caviezel and Mira Sorvino, was filmed in 2018. When it became a part of Disney’s library, the House of Mouse shelved it. Then, in March 2023, Angel Studios — a film studio founded by two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — purchased the film. The film was released nationwide on July 4, 2023. Much to everyone’s surprise, it appears to have become the surprise hit of the summer, surpassing films like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Sound of Freedom

Credit: Angel Studio

Sound of Freedom tells the story of a man who quit his job as a federal agent to start his own organization to fight human trafficking. With Disney’s recent box office struggles, it hits a little harder, seeing that they sold a film that looks like it is very successful. However, a Disney spokesperson has said that the company didn’t even know they had the film.

A Disney spokesperson told Newsweek an international deal for the film’s distribution had already been done prior to its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The spokesperson said, “[Disney] studios had no knowledge of the film given the nature of the international acquisition pre-merger.”

the walt disney company

Credit: Disney

Controversy Surrounding ‘Sound of Freedom’

Sound of Freedom has made about $100 million at the box office. However, there is some doubt about how much of that is from people actually buying tickets. Multiple reports have surfaced that people are buying out theaters, so the film looks like it is successful, but the theaters are nearly empty during the actual showings. People can visit the Angel Studios’ website and claim a free ticket, so they can go see the film in their area. That has left many people wondering if the movie is actually as successful as it seems.


#thesoundoffreedom #fyp

♬ original sound – Francia

While Sound of Freedom may seem like a film solely about a man taking on those who traffic children, many are calling the film out for espousing Q-Anon conspiracy theories. The film stars Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard, the real-life man who quit his job as a federal agent to start an organization to end child trafficking. Caviezel has been outspoken in his beliefs, including the baseless Q-Anon belief that there is an international cabal of elites abusing and killing children to extract a substance called adrenochrome.

Ballard has denied that he agrees with Caviezel’s claims about adrenochrome, but recently went on a podcast, saying that the “harvesting” of adrenochrome is real. The film is also being marketed to those who believe in Q-Anon theories.

Sound of Freedom

Credit: Angel Studios

Those who also work in fighting trafficking are also worried about the message that the film sends. The film show’s Caviezel’s Ballard single-handedly defeating a Colombian crime syndicate. Something that is incredibly far from the truth and how things really happen. Per a report from NPR:

These popular depictions raise concerns among anti-trafficking experts, who say they offer an incomplete portrait of a real and urgent problem.

“Because trafficking is so varied and does span so many populations, it really tests our brain to not, not distill it down to some sort of ‘this is what a common victim of human trafficking looks like,'” said Elizabeth Campbell, co-director of the University of Michigan’s Human Trafficking Clinic. “By doing that, I think we make actual victims of human trafficking more invisible and more vulnerable to exploitation.”

She said trafficking takes many forms, including forced labor, which is often under-reported, and affects victims of a wide range of ages. Some trafficking involves kidnapping by strangers, as depicted in Sound of Freedom, but often it’s committed by people close to the victim who exploit trust, she said.

Sound of Freedom

Credit: Angel Studios

Tim Ballard’s group — Our Underground Railroad — which the film is about, has also faced a lot of controversy. The group has faced a criminal investigation into a number of illegal activities. OUR was investigated for its operators engaging in sexual acts with trafficking victims, whether the organization had created a demand for trafficking victims, and whether they committed human trafficking itself by enticing people who were not previously traffickers by paying them large amounts of money.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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