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Concussion nabs prime premiere slot at AFI Fest

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Concussion will premiere on Nov. 10 as AFI Fest’s Centerpiece Gala, the American Film Institute announced today.

Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who discovered important evidence about the effect of cumulative head injury on NFL players. The film’s first trailer raised eyebrows, since it prominently features the actual NFL in an unflattering light. Yet the New York Times suggested Concussion may have purposefully softened its portrayal of the billion-dollar league, though director Peter Landesman and Sony denied doing so.

This back-and-forth may have inspired the film’s earlier premiere. “Although the film doesn’t open until Christmas, with all of the recent debate about it, we are excited to show it sooner so that the discussion can be more informed,” Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman stated in a press release.

Concussion will not be the only buzzy film to premiere at AFI Fest. The Opening Night Gala on Nov. 5 will be Angelina Jolie’s By the Seaand and the Closing Night Gala a week later will be Adam McKay’s The Big Short. The full festival lineup will be revealed in October. Tickets to AFI Fest will be available for purchase to the general public at starting Oct. 26. 

Concussion opens everywhere this Christmas.