Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian-born forensic pathologist whose autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster led to the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or consequences of repeated head trauma as we know it. Webster was just 50-years-old when he died and years of Steel Curtain football contributed to his death.
Omalu’s journey was documented in a 2009 GQ article titled Game Brain and now that it is being developed into a motion picture, the National Football League’s billion dollar game is in jeopardy of a scandal (as if the risks aren’t documented enough; Junior Seau).
Concussion director Peter Landesman is speaking out against The Times report days after the trailer easily amassed more than a million views. In a statement to the Associated Press, Landesman denies altering the film to satisfy the league’s worst nightmare in any possible way.
“We always intended to make an entertaining, hard-hitting film about Dr. Omalu’s David-and-Goliath story, which played out like a Hollywood thriller,” he said. “Anyone who sees the movie will know that it never once compromises the integrity and the power of the real story.”
In one of the aforementioned emails, Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote: “Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn’t planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn’t be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge. We’ll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”
Another email dated a year ago in August 2014 spoke of an aborted attempt to reach out to the NFL and how some “unflattering” scenes were “deleted or changed” and some of “the bite” had been removed out of the movie for legal reasons.
Concussion releases in theaters on Christmas Day 2015. Watch the trailer here.
Photo: Sony Pictures