Makers of "Concussion" Tried to Avoid Angering the NFL

Marketed it as the story of a whistleblower instead of a story about the sport/league.

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Complex Original

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When it comes to concussions, the NFL would rather talk about about something else. A movie on that subject starring Will Smith hitting theaters in time for the holidays could make that extra hard. No doubt, Roger Goodell and Co. are hoping it's another After Earth.

And while you may think the brass of the league is freaked by the story of the doctor who identified C.T.E. being projected onto the big screen, it also appears that the films creators, and the studio behind it (Sony), were probably much more cautious in crossing the NFL. Emails exposed by hackers showed that those working on the movie had the league in mind throughout the time they were putting it together.

The marketing of the movie was reportedly altered to accentuate the tale of a whistleblower (real life doctor Bennet Omalu) instead of making it a condemnation of the sport. Said Dwight Caines, Sony Pictures' president of domestic marketing:

"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."

Just days earlier, an email confirmed that moments that were "unflattering for the NFL" were either changed or deleted. One of Sony's top lawyers took "most of the bite" out of the flick, in part because of "legal reasons with the NFL."

Peter Landesman, who both wrote and directed the movie, stated:

"We're just being smart because any large corporation will design a response to something it considers to be a threat to its existence. We don't want to give the N.F.L. a toehold to say, ‘They are making it up,' and damage the credibility of the movie."

Landesman also said that dialogue was influenced with "based on a true story" in mind:

"There were things that might have been creatively fun to have actors say that might not have been accurate in the heads of the N.F.L. or doctors. We might have gotten away with it legally, but it might have damaged our integrity as filmmakers. We didn't have a need to make up anything because it was powerful and revelatory on its own."

In addition to both of those statements, he also made it clear that the film was not compromised to "protect ourselves from the NFL."

How critical the film is of the league is unknown to us peons. It'll remain that way until the it hits theaters on Christmas Day. Until then, check out the trailer below:

View this video on YouTube

[via New York Times]

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