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"Sound of Freedom" Sequel May be in Danger: Will Rightful Owner of Tim Ballard's Life Story Rights Show Themselves?

Still from Sound of Freedom, Credit, Angel Studios

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Sound of Freedom 2 may be in a rights tussle over who gets to take the sequel for a spin.

Another party, Mike Ilitch Jr, a producer, and son of billionaire owner of the Little Caesar’s Pizza chain, claims that the facts on who owns the life rights has not been reported accurately. But, he has not clarified yet, on who owns the exclusive or partial rights to the sequel, which doesn’t yet exist in script form. But he does claim he is in talks with Ballard to develop a sequel, even though this implied claim that Ballard’s life rights being “on the market” flies in the face of Ballard & Monteverde’s past claims.

Variety reports more on this here.

Director of Sound of Freedom, Monteverde, has stated that he acquired the rights during the period in which he was researching the story of Tim Ballard, but “how” he acquired those rights specifically, has not been clarified. It very well may be that he acquired them through his producers, of which Mr. Ilitch may have been a part. There is no indication this is the case, however. But if this is the case, that Mr. Ilitch was one of his producers who acquired it for him to direct (which is very common in the film industry) then the director will defer to Mr. Ilitch, as the actual caretaker. If this is not the case, it may be that Monteverde may be in dispute with Mr. Ilitch or other producers on who has the rights.

There’s more to it. Variety states that it is the sequel rights that are in dispute, but I would not agree with this assessment. Ballard has stated, along with Monteverde, that it was specifically his “life story” rights that were purchased. Never before has the rights to the initial film (as separate from later iterations) been discussed, until now. This makes me think that new parties (which may or may not include Mr. Ilitch) are attempting to separate out the rights, in order to prevent future iterations by current licensees. This is often how lawfare can destroy the value of an IP, by implying or providing legal precedence that current licensees are not necessarily future licensees (small print claims).

So, what will have to occur is a “meeting of the minds” from Ballard and Monteverde’s representation. These legal representatives will need to draw up something like a statement of unequivocal rights (not an official term, nor legal advice, mind you). Which makes it unambiguous on who has the life rights. My bet, however, is that a simple miscommunication is all that occurred, and that Mr. Ilitch or Ballard or Monteverde misspoke on who possesses the life story rights. This also could easily occur if new talks are happening, as Ballard engaging in new talks with new filmmakers does not necessarily “gift” that new filmmaker with rights that the actual rights-holder possesses. Simply stated: talks don’t equal rights.

The fact that Ballard has been no slouch on how he wants this to go is a good sign that these rights will be well guarded, but if Ilitch will guard them as closely, is a tad in question. My bet is that the winning formula to make this film a hit (the combined Monteverde & Angel team) will not be disregarded, if the rights caretaker has not been captured by malicious lawfare elements. If they want that hit-making team to do their best at shepherding this project, they will again hand it over to them to do what they did once again… and make it a hit by staying true to the same ethic as the original film.

But, if malicious lawfare elements seek to neuter the project (which happens quite often in Hollywood, as is often the issue with sequels) we will likely see the Angel/Monteverde team excised from the project through lawsuits. Angel was created through a huge lawsuit with a powerful Hollywood studio when Disney sued VidAngel out of existence (into bankruptcy), and it would be no surprise if lawfare bad-actors from Hollywood get to rake them over the court-system coals once again. My bet is they’d enjoy this in Hollywood to such a degree that I don’t think hell itself could contain the jeers and mockery that emanate from the volcanic ash of Sheol.

Hopefully, Ballard and the filmmakers will prevent this happening with their left hand, as they stop human trafficking with their right.

May the Lord help this Ballard/Monteverde team in this battle and give them comfort.

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