The NFL may be central to the plot of Will Smith’s Concussion, but how eager players and team owners will be to watch the film remains to be seen. Now, however, they have an extra incentive: Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced that players, owners, and their plus-ones will be able to see the movie for free while it’s in theaters.
The decision is part of Sony’s strategy to encourage players to see the film, which has also included numerous advanced, private screenings in cities with an NFL team. Producers Ridley Scott and Giannina Scott described the film in a press release as being “a movie for the players” and a story about “courage that changed the game,” but it’s hard to deny that the film also presents a scary reality for them. After a showing with 70 former players and their families, Sports Illustrated’s MMQB blog described Concussion as “a panic-inducing horror flick” for some attendees.
It’s not surprising that players would feel that way. The film tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) as he investigates the death of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster and discovers that repeated blows to the head can lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Omalu fights to make the NFL recognize the disease, whose dangers include dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, and more.
However members of the NFL may feel about the film, it has accomplished Sony’s goal of getting players in “the national dialogue about the film.” Darrelle Revis, a cornerback for the New York Jets, for example, attended the New York premiere of the film and said that “it hit home pretty hard,” according to Newsday.
Other players who decide to catch a showing will be able to bring their NFLPA membership card to any Cinemark theater in the United States and get a free ticket for themselves and a guest. Concussion comes to theaters on Christmas Day.