Eduardo Verástegui attends “Familia y Entretenimiento” press conference as a part of second day of XIV World Congress of Families Mexico 2022 at Expo Santa Fe México on Oct. 1, 2022, in Mexico City. / Credit: Jaime Nogales/Medios y Media/Getty Images
ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 13, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
Mexican activist and filmmaker Eduardo Verástegui said he considers the success of his film “Sound of Freedom,” which opened in U.S. theaters on July 4, a miracle.
“Sound of Freedom” is a film from Angel Studios that narrates the first mission of American federal agent Tim Ballard, played by Catholic actor Jim Caviezel, who also played Jesus Christ in the film “The Passion of the Christ.”
Ballard, after rescuing a boy from the clutches of traffickers, learns that the boy’s sister is still being held captive. He then quits his job and risks his life as he embarks on a perilous journey through the Colombian jungle to save her.
The film has already had more than 4 million viewers after only nine days in theaters. On opening day, it ranked first at the box office, surpassing “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” and “Elemental,” the latter being from Pixar and Disney.
Disney, Netflix, Amazon, and others rejected ‘Sound of Freedom’
Verástegui believes the film’s success is a miracle — or several miracles: “We are competing with the biggest in the industry, and we took first place,” the actor and producer said in a note sent to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.
Verástegui explained why he believes this is the case “Many doors were closed to us over these years; Disney, Netflix, Amazon, and other distribution houses said ‘no, this film is not for us, it’s not good business, nobody is going to see a film about child trafficking,’ they claimed. Faced with these refusals, we had two options: Give up and throw in the towel, or — when it comes to saving lives — don’t give up, keep going and persevere for as long as necessary.”
“Finally, after eight years invested in bringing ‘Sound of Freedom’ to life, the distributor Angel Studios turns up in the state of Utah, in a town called Provo, interested in helping us distribute the film,” he continued.
“Five days later,” the producer recounted, “we had already signed a contract. Three months later, the miracle: July 4, Independence Day in the United States, the film is in theaters and ranks first at the box office, shaking the conscience and the heart of the country that is statistically considered the world’s No. 1 consumer of sex with children.”
“And the movement for freedom is already a fact, it’s underway, and it’s growing, growing, growing without stopping; they can’t stop it. That is the miracle: That in a world of lies and attacks, the truth makes its way, takes first place, and many lives will be saved thanks to this. Because in times of universal lies, Orwell said, telling the truth constitutes a revolutionary act,” Verástegui said.
In his opinion, “this film is a revolutionary act. Millions of children are being enslaved, subjugated, damaged in the deepest and most precious part of their being today, right now. Human trafficking is very real, the sexual exploitation of children is a daily atrocity, but it is also real that we say enough is enough! There are more than 50 million enslaved people in the world according to the IOM [International Organization for Migration], the ILO [International Labor Organization], and the Walk Free Foundation; We are living in the moment of human history with the greatest number of slaves… And we cannot remain silent.”
Why was July 4 chosen for the premiere?
Verástegui highlighted that July 4, Independence Day in the United States, was not chosen at random: “It’s a day of freedom, a day that appeals to consciences and responsibility, a very significant day. It had to be that day. It’s part of the message we’re giving.”
“We were fully aware that it was a difficult date, because we would be competing with the main productions, with investments of $300 million and with advertising budgets that exceed $100 million and more.”
“But we also knew that we had a powerful message and a production full of art and impact. So we decided to jump in. And now you see, [we took the risk and succeeded],” the producer said.
Despite having been screened in only 2,600 theaters, “Sound of Freedom” managed to outperform “Indiana Jones,” which was offered in 4,600 theaters on opening day. In addition, that same July 4, the film grossed $14 million, while the Disney film starring Harrison Ford took in $11 million.
In a July 7 tweet, Verástegui invited Ford to go see “Sound of Freedom”:
“Dear@HarrisonFordLA: I grew up watching your movies and dreaming of fighting bad guys like Indiana Jones. I want to invite you to watch @soundoffreedommovie, of which I am a producer. Do you think that prof. … Henry Walton Jones Jr. help us save children and fight trafficking? Together we are stronger and with that strength we can eradicate child trafficking.”
In May last year, Verástegui participated with Mel Gibson in the pro-life and pro-family IV Transatlantic Summit in Budapest, Hungary, where he screened “Sound of Freedom” in Spanish and drew five minutes of continuous applause from those present.
After the applause, Verástegui invited Gibson up to the stage and said that “this film has the mark of Mel.”
The Mexican actor has been very active and outspoken in the pro-life movement in Latin America. Among other efforts in Mexico, in late 2019, he toured all 31 Mexican states and Mexico City promoting the Spanish version of “Unplanned” in Mexico, the film portraying how Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson became a strong pro-life advocate.
In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown in his country, the Catholic actor urged Mexicans to join him on social media platforms in praying the rosary on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13 and also on May 31 for the end of the pandemic.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.