Yesterday, the trailer for Will Smith’s concussion drama, Concussion, hit the internet. I mentioned in the accompanying post that the NFL wouldn’t be too happy with the movie. Looks like I may have been wrong.
According to the New York Times, those leaked Sony emails detail some back and forth between the studio and Will Smith’s representatives on what the message of the film is, and how the NFL would react:
“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,” Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email on Aug. 6, 2014, to three top studio executives about how to position the movie. “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 on Aug. 1, 2014, said some “unflattering moments for the N.F.L.” were deleted or changed, while in another note on July 30, 2014, a top Sony lawyer is said to have taken “most of the bite” out of the film “for legal reasons with the N.F.L. and that it was not a balance issue.” Other emails in September 2014 discuss an aborted effort to reach out to the N.F.L.”
“We didn’t want to give the N.F.L. a toehold to say, ‘They are making it up,’ and damage the credibility of the movie,” the film’s writer said, explaining that those emails don’t show anyone bowing to the NFL. “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.”
Whether the film was changed or not – and it definitely was – it looks like the NFL will squeak its way out of this one too.