Angel Studios’ “Sound of Freedom,” an action thriller exposing the child sex slave trade featuring “Passion of the Christ” actor Jim Caviezel, sold more tickets heading into its opening day July 4 than the blockbuster wannabe “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”

“As exciting that it is to hit the number 1 spot for this summer opening, it doesn’t even come close to the excitement that the number means for awareness of this issue,” Jordan Harmon, co-owner of Angel Studios, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Wednesday.

“Sound of Freedom” topped the charts with $14.3 million in ticket sales at 2,634 theaters on the Fourth of July, according to Box Office Mojo. “Indiana Jones” came in second with $11.7 million at 4,600 theaters. Disney’s “Elemental,” with $2.8 million at 3,650 theaters, was a distant third.

Harmon said Angel had internal data showing that the film would likely bring in “significantly more than anybody projected,” but “this blew us away.”

“The early projections had sound of freedom at $10 million for the whole week, to do $14-plus million on opening day is wild,” he added. “We’re thrilled to death, there’s a lot to do and there’s awareness to be brought to this incredible cause.”

“That number is a reflection of the lives that will be rescued from this darkness,” Harmon declared.

“Sound of Freedom” tells the story of Tim Ballard (Caviezel), a former agent at the Department of Homeland Security who rescued hundreds of children from sex slavery. Ballard has warned that the Biden administration’s border policy and its transgender ideology aid and abet the evils of the global child sex slave trade. As an actor, Caviezel has spoken out against the legacy media for burying such important issues.

Yet some news outlets have questioned the Caviezel film’s impressive haul, claiming that some of the tickets don’t count. Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro had the top two spots reversed, claiming that Indy “officially wins” with $11.698 million and “Sound of Freedom” takes a respectable second with $11.5 million. Why the disparity?

“Angel Studios is a using a crowdfunding platform to spur its ticket sales. Known as Pay It Forward, the patent-pending technology from the distributor is billed as empowering moviegoers to purchase tickets for other people,” the Deadline reporter explained.

Angel Studios launched Pay It Forward for the movie “His Only Son,” and it uses the program to enable viewers to purchase episodes of the hit streaming series about Jesus, “The Chosen,” so others can watch it for free online.

Angel Studios CEO Neal Harmon touted Pay It Forward in his statement on “Sound of Freedom” hitting the top spot at the box office. The company’s press release reads: “Angel Studios’ Pay It Forward Technology Propels Sound of Freedom to #1 movie in America July 4th.”

“The industry’s tossing and turning to even understand what we’re doing,” Jordan Harmon told The Daily Signal. “They don’t really know how to even process that we’ve created a new way for box office to increase drastically.”

With Pay It Forward, there are three potential buckets of tickets: tickets for July 4 showings that audiences purchased, tickets that people purchased through Pay It Forward before July 4 that were claimed for July 4 showings, and tickets that people purchased through Pay It Forward that are still available for people to claim for showings after July 4. These unclaimed tickets may play a similar role to pre-purchased tickets, when someone buys a ticket on July 4 for a showing that will take place at a later date, such as July 8.

Since distributors report their own box office numbers, “every studio probably has its own methodologies,” Harmon explained. While most distributors probably count “butts in seats” for the gross box office, Angel Studios has its own method of counting Pay It Forward tickets.

Harmon said “it doesn’t really matter” how Angel counts the ticket sales because “we’re never going to double-count tickets or purchases.” He reiterated that Hollywood doesn’t know what to make of Pay It Forward because “it’s never been done before.”

The Angel Studios film “His Only Son,” which tells the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, outpunched “Creed III” at the box office earlier this year.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment about the Pay It Forward numbers by publication time.

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