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Thanksgiving television audiences may be seeing a lot of Sony Pictures NFL drama, Concussion.
“ESPN called us early wanting our ads,” director and writer Peter Landesman told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s Los Angeles screening on Monday. “All the networks have accepted our ads for football for Thanksgiving. Because network TV is usually the canary in the coal mine, I have a feeling that the country is really ready to accept this story, even the NFL broadcast networks.”
Added Landesman: “This isn’t up for discussion anymore. This isn’t up for debate. This film doesn’t take on the NFL. It’s a story about one man’s journey toward the truth. If I were the NFL, I would embrace it and I would use the movie as a way to move forward into the future.”
The film’s strong message has already received a warm welcome, with a standing ovation at the film’s premiere at the AFI Fest earlier this month. On the red carpet of the film’s screening Monday night, Will Smith was asked about the NFL’s stance toward the film.
“That would have been a pretty big question two years ago. I think now all of the information is out,” said Smith. “It’s like it’s not a question anymore. I think the film is more of a compilation of the information than it is a revelation of the information. I think in general, the reactions will be at a minimum accepting.”
Smith delivers a dramatic performance of the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian doctor whose autopsy on NFL star Mike Webster blew the cover off the league after discovering that the trauma endured by football players was causing them to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease. The film focuses on the dangers of the sport.
Dr. Bennet Omalu told THR at the screening that the film hasn’t generated controversy but only “truth.”
“When I met Mike Webster’s family, I experienced their pain they were suffering,” he said. “When you do something out of love and in truth, you step out into the light so it could be clearly seen that what you do is being done out of love so what do you have to be afraid of?”
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