Despite the film’s highly politicized nature, Alejandro Monteverde’s Sound Of Freedom has become one of only a few box office successes this Summer, earning $155 million against an estimated production budget of only $14.5 million. It seems clear that the raging success of the film would spawn a sequel or perhaps even a longstanding franchise following the runaway success, though recent reports from Variety seem to suggest another installment is highly unlikely.
Apparently, the rights to the film, and therefore any future franchise outings, have become grounds for a legal battle that threatens to prevent a sequel from ever being green-lit in the first place.
The unique financial structure that brought Sound of Freedom to theaters makes it difficult to figure out own’s the rights to the film.
One of Sound Of Freedom‘s major producers, Mike Ilitch Jr., claims to have exclusive life rights to the story, though the film’s director seems to disagree. Alejandro Monteverde, who helmed the film, claims to have secured exclusive rights from Tim Ballard to tell this story and others on the big screen, whether Mike Ilitch Jr. is involved in the project or not.
Following the massive success of the first film, it seems clear that those involved in creating and financing the picture will be searching for a larger slice of the pie in future outings, causing this clash.
Tim Ballard is a former United States government agent who dedicated his life to halting and preventing the spread of human trafficking around the world, especially in regard to young children, founding Operation Underground Railroad to do so. Sound Of Freedom stars Jim Caviezel as a fictionalized version of Tim Ballard himself and is loosely based on true tales from Ballard’s life and writings.
Two producers on the Sound of Freedom, Mike Ilitch Jr. and Alejandro Monteverde, claim to own the rights to Tim Ballard’s life story.
Though Monteverde claims to have ascertained the filmmaking rights to Ballard’s story, Mike Ilitch Jr., son of the billionaire founder of Little Caesar’s pizza chain, is prepared to fight this notion in court. Both Ilitch Jr. and Monteverde have specified that Sound Of Freedom sequel talks are in the works, though the parties cannot seem to agree on the story the unnamed sequel will tell nor who has the right to produce the picture.
To make matters worse for the producers, the film’s distributor, Angel Studios, likely owns the rights to the Sound Of Freedom title, allowing them to craft a spinoff with a new protagonist if they feel so inclined. Obviously, it would serve the best interests of all parties to reach an agreement and produce a standard sequel, but the studio certainly won’t agree to stand by and wait as Monteverde is bled dry by the heir to a pizza dynasty in court.
The surprise success of Sound of Freedom is why the film’s rights weren’t settled earlier, with Angel Studios, the distributor, potentially able to keep the name going forward.
According to Variety, larger film studios circumvent these legal issues often by locking up the rights to the film and any franchising opportunities early in production. Of course, neither the studio nor the producers of Sound Of Freedom expected the film to be such a hit, leaving many of the creative forces behind the film to assume that talks of a sequel would be unlikely.
The hit film will surely spawn future installments one way or another, though for the time being, details are unclear about who will be involved and who will be pushed out of the project.