Studios are examining how the indie film Sound Of Freedom has outgrossed Mission: Impossible, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and The Flash in the US.
One of the more curious box office stories of the summer doesn’t track the fortunes of a tentpole release, rather a small independent film that appears to be outgrossing many of the blockbuster movies, thanks to a financing and distribution model that now has major Hollywood studios sitting up and taking notice.
Sound Of Freedom has earned $164m so far in the US, outperforming Mission: Impossible, Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts and The Flash. The film itself isn’t lacking in controversy with commentators on all sides hoisting it up as a symbol of all that’s right or wrong in the world. However, for the Hollywood studios who are watching on as this small indie film (that Disney had the rights to before selling them back to the film’s creators) earns more than their big summer tentpoles, the question has nothing to do with the film’s politics and everything to do with its profitability.
As such, The Hollywood Reporter is claiming that at least one major ‘legacy’ studio has quietly commissioned a survey about the film’s ‘social media discourse and audience reaction’. Sound Of Freedom has used a rather unique distribution strategy called ‘Pay it Forward’ which encourages people to ‘buy and then donate Sound of Freedom tickets for others to use. Those “others” can grab a code off the Pay It Forward website and then redeem it using major online ticketing services or an individual theatre.’
The model isn’t without controversy as many have claimed that screenings of the film are mainly funded via donations rather than paying customers and as such, there are reports of Sound of Freedom playing to empty auditoriums which have been paid for. This of course raises questions about how many people have actually seen the film and whether that invalidates its successful box office run.
Whilst studios may be upset about the film’s disruptive distribution model and the headlines it has generated, The Hollywood Reporter piece shows that at least one studio is looking into the model in more detail.
The problem for the studios here is that to convince people to buy and donate tickets, the film has seemingly wedded itself to topics that generate fierce feelings and debate and no studio wants to deal with that, hence the reported survey into the discourse that Sound of Freedom has generated. If you’re not familiar with the ongoing story or want to read about it in full, the piece at The Hollywood Reporter covers everything that’s unfolded so far and can be found here.
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