The faith-based indie outfit behind summer blockbuster Sound of Freedom is out with documentary After Death, which opens in over 2,600 theaters this weekend, an extremely wide release for a doc that doesn’t also happen to be a concert film.
The exploration of near-death experiences by survivors, scientists, medical professionals and authors that addresses the question of what happens when we die has pre-sold over 211,000 tickets. That’s according to the latest check of a constantly updating ticket counter on Angel’s website that estimates pre-orders based on integrations with ticketing platforms and exhibitors.
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The company declined to put a dollar figure on pre-sales. “We are thrilled by audience response, craving a theatrical experience for After Death,” said Jared Geesey, distribution head of Provo, Utah-based Angel. “Life’s biggest question deserves the biggest screens and a distraction-free environment.”
Director Stephen Gray said the sudden loss of his brother-in-law at age 36 in part inspired the film. “Life can be short. My hope is that after watching After Death, it causes audiences to reflect and consider all of the evidence. Movies have a unique ability to help shape culture and this film allows us all to explore what happens when we die. We want everyone to come away feeling valued with a renewed sense of hope, that their life has meaning.”
Angel Studios’ structure taps tens of thousands of investors, who are part of its Angel Guild to help choose and fund titles for the studio to distribute. It hit a jackpot with anti-sex trafficking feature Sound Of Freedom, which opened July 4 and grossed $184 million domestic ($258 million worldwide), appealing despite some controversy with faith-based audiences who can spin gold at the box office. Previous films include hugely successful The Chosen, and Dry Bar Comedy.
Sound of Freedom director Alejandro Monteverde is re-teaming with Angel Studios on his next movie, Cabrini, out next spring, the story of Francesca Cabrini, a poor but audacious Italian immigrant who became one of the great entrepreneurs of the 19th century.
Angel will release The Shift, in theaters Dec. 1. The sci-fi thriller stars Neal McDonough (Yellowstone, Minority Report), Sean Astin (Stranger Things, The Lord of the Rings), Kristoffer Polaha (Wonder Woman, 1984, Mad Men), Liz Tabish (The Chosen), Paras Patel (The Chosen) and Rose Reid (Finding You, Surprised by Oxford).
After Death, a Sypher Studios Production, was written and directed by Gray (Discovering Heaven), co-directed by Chris Radtke (Among Thieves) and produced by Jens Jacob (I’m Not Crazy I’m Sick, War Unfolding) and Jason Pamer (Nick: The Nick Vujicic Story, The Heart Of Man).
Angel Studios was originally founded by a group of brothers led by Neal and Jeffrey Harmon in 2014 as VidAngel – a filtering service that excised non-family friendly content from Hollywood movies. It was sued for copyright violations by Disney, LucasFilm, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Turner Entertainment and New Line Productions and filed for bankruptcy. It emerged, renamed itself and focused on original production.
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