Leader in effort to end child sex trafficking hopes 'Sound of Freedom' inspires others to help

"We hope that when people come out of this movie, they feel empowered," Osborne said.

Published: July 10, 2023 6:02am

Updated: July 10, 2023 8:51am

A leader in the cause to rescue children from sex trafficking and sexual exploitation hopes the success of the new film "Sound of Freedom" will inspire others worldwide to join in the effort. 

"That's what we're hoping," says Matt Osborne, president and Chief Operating Officer of Operation Underground Railroad, "that it will create this movement of people to donate to [OUR] so we can fund additional rescue teams in the United States and around the world."

According to a Sunday press release from Angel Studios, the movie expected to hit $40 million in total ticket sales after its first weekend. 

“As with our July 4th numbers, today’s numbers exceed our expectations, and we’re going to continue this momentum. SOUND of FREEDOM has taken on a life of its own. We’re getting messages from all over the country telling us about packed theaters, sold-out theaters, and spontaneous standing ovations for the film in numerous locations. Seeing this film has become a must thanks to incredible word-of-mouth,” Brandon Purdie, Head of Theatrical Distribution at Angel Studios, said in the release.

Operation Underground Railroad has since its start in 2013 been involved in rescuing over 6,000 child-trafficking victims and arresting over 4,000 predators. 

"Sound of Freedom," which was released this week on the Fourth of July, is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security agent who quit his job about 10 years ago to rescue children who were victims of human trafficking. 

He soon after founded the nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad, which works with law enforcement around the world to rescue the young victims and help them heal and recover. 

Osborne worked with the CIA for 12 years before Ballard recruited him to be a part of the team that runs undercover operations to rescue children.

Box Office Mojo shows "Sound of Freedom" has the highest box office take in the U.S. on July 4, at 14.24 million. “Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny” came in second and Pixar's “Elemental” came in third. However, the "Indiana Jones" film in its debut four days earlier grossed roughly $23 million domestically. 

"Sound of Freedom" had a budget of $14.5 million, while “Indiana Jones” had a budget of $250-300 million and "Elemental" had a budget of $200 million.  

"It was hard for us to find someone who wanted to distribute this," Osborne said, in reference to the movie. "And when we talked to Angel Studios, they said 'Look, we're gonna do it on the Fourth of July. People have the time to go to the movies then.' It's a feel-good movie even though it's a dark subject."

Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ in “The Passion of the Christ," plays Ballard in the film.

"He's one of the best actors I've ever seen in terms of the way he throws himself into this role," Osborne said. "I only knew him from 'The Passion of the Christ,' but to be on the set with him and to get to know him and see how much he put himself into this was amazing."

Caviezel told Osborne that this role was the second most important role he's ever played, next to playing Jesus. 

"We hope that when people come out of this movie, they feel empowered to say 'I can do something. Can I donate? Can I pray? Can I post on social media? Can I make connections with OUR with law enforcement or politicians? Can we get the word out?'" Osborne said. 

While the proceeds of the movie do not go to Operation Underground Railroad, Osborne says he hopes the movie will encourage viewers to join the fight against child sex trafficking, whether that be donating to the nonprofit, or spreading the word about the movie. 

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