Sony Pictures Entertainment is offering NFL players and their families free admission at Cinemark Theaters to Will Smith’s “Concussion,” which opens on Christmas Day.
The studio said it has already reached out to current and former NFL players by holding private screenings in each team’s city in advance of its opening.
“This is a movie for the players, so we wanted to give them a chance to see it before its nationwide release and free admission during its run in theaters,” producers Ridley Scott and Giannina Scott said. “The movie is so inspiring. Will Smith gives one of the best performances of his career as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a man who shined a light on the truth.”
Players will receive complimentary admission for themselves and one guest by presenting their NFLPA membership card at any Cinemark theater. Cinemark has almost 500 theaters with about 4,500 screens in the U.S.
Omalu is a forensic pathologist who fought against the NFL’s efforts to suppress his research on the brain damage suffered by professional football players. The film was directed and written by Peter Landesman, based on Jeanne Marie Laskas’ 2009 GQ article “Game Brain.”
“Concussion” also stars Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Albert Brooks. It’s a Columbia Pictures presentation in association with LStar Capital and Village Roadshow Pictures.
The trailer for Will Smith’s new film about the discovery of the NFL’s concussion controversy has arrived merely a few weeks before the league’s fall season is set to begin.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated-affiliated site Monday Morning Quarterbackreleased the first look atConcussion Monday morning. Directed by Peter Landesman, the film will focus on Nigerian neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu(played by Smith), who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Dr. Omalu found the disease, also known as CTE, after working on the autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. CTE is the progressive degenerative brain disease that athletes can acquire thanks to repetitive head trauma on the field.
The book and documentary, League of Denial, already told Omalu’s story and the battle he faced in bringing CTE to the NFL’s attention. But Landesman says the film will dive into more of the story, and explore the doctor’s determination in pushing the condition to the forefront of the sports world. He also noted that the project isn’t anti-NFL.
“It’s the dynamic of, ‘Respect the person or respect the truth,’” he said. “Bennett has a savant-like relationship to the dead. His obsession is to tell the story of death. As he says in the movie, I think more about the way people die and reasons they die than the way they live. He was completely focused on the science. He didn’t know football, he didn’t know who Mike Webster was; to him, Webster was just another body on a slab. He didn’t have a reverence for the game because he wasn’t brought up in this country. So in some ways, his purity and his innocence was a requirement for him to drill down into this and tell us a very uncomfortable and inconvenient truth.”
Concussion will be released in theaters on Christmas Day. Check out the trailer below:
Lost star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is tackling another role in a Sony film, this time joining Will Smith in the studio’s untitled NFL concussion drama directed by Parkland‘s Peter Landesman. Akinnuoye-Agbaje starred recently in disaster period pic Pompeii and the upcoming Annie remake for Sony.
He’ll play real-life NFL safety Dave Duerson, a three-time Pro Bowl pick who died in 2011 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. At his request, Duerson’s brain was sent to researchers, who determined that the athlete had suffered from the debilitating symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by his football injuries.Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Bitsie Tulloch, and Albert Brooks also star in the film whichcenters on Smith’s forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, whose studies on CTE prompt the NFL to take brain-related injuries seriously. Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Wolthoff, Larry Shuman, and Elizabeth Cantillon are producing. Michael Schaefer and David Crockett are executive producers.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje recently filmed a role in Jay Roach’s Trumbo opposite Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren and Diane Lane. On the small screen, the erstwhile Mr. Eko turned up on Season 5 of HBO’s Game Of Thrones and soon will return to NBC’s Odyssey as series regular. Other recent films include Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete. He is repped by APA, Circle of Confusion, the Artists Partnership in the UK, and Felker Toczek Suddleson.
Will Smith is ready to tackle the NFL’s concussion problem having attached himself to star in the untitled drama based on the GQ article “Game Brain” for Scott Free and Sony. Peter Landesman (“Parkland”) is on board to write and direct.
The article was written by Jeanne Marie Laskas and follows Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Smith, the forensic neuropathologist who single-handedly made the first discovery of CTE in a professional football player and brought awareness to the public. The story is described as a whistle-blower tale in the vein of “The Insider” humanizing the price paid by professional athletes in impact sports — and the political, cultural and corporate interests that fuel the business of professional sports.
The untitled feature is one of a handful of Hollywood projects revolving around the concussion problem in the NFL taking shape in the industry. Parkes/MacDonald Productions are developing a project based on the book “League Of Denial: The NFL, Concussions And The Battle For Truth” and Isaiah Washington is set to star in the indie drama “Game Time Decision,” both of which focus on the concussion issue.
Smith can be seen next in the Warner Bros. movie “Focus” opposite Margot Robbie.