AceShowbiz - %cWill Smith%'s NFL fact-based drama "Concussion (2015)" has found itself in the middle of a controversy. The New York Times reported that the script of "Concussion" was altered to avoid antagonizing the NFL. However, director Peter Landesman disputed the report, saying that the movie would preserve the real story without compromising with the football organization.
Based on several emails which were leaked in the hack of Sony Pictures, the director and representatives of Smith discussed how to adjust things to avoid offending the organization. Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, thought that the idea to put Smith as the lead actor might be a solution because Smith's not anti-football.
An email stated that some "unflattering moments for the NFL" were deleted or changed, while another email suggested that a top Sony lawyer was said to have taken "most of the bite" out of the film "for legal reasons with the NFL and that it was not a balance issue." Other emails in September 2014 discussed an aborted effort to reach out to the NFL.
Responding to the rumor, Landesman, who also wrote the script, said in an interview that the email conversations were not about compromising with the NFL. It was done to make the characters and the story of the movie as accurate as possible to reduce the chance that the filmmakers would be blamed for improvising the story too much.
"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," said Landesman. "Anyone who sees the movie will know that it never once compromises the integrity and the power of the real story."
Landesman added, "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 NFL a toehold to say, 'They are making it up,' and damage the credibility of the movie."
The director also delivered a message about being a professional filmmaker, "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."
Following the release of the film's trailer, Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy, said that the league was "encouraged by the ongoing focus" on player safety. "We all know more about this issue than we did 10 or 20 years ago," said Miller. "As we continue to learn more, we apply those learnings to make our game and players safer," he added.
"Concussion" also stars %cAlec Baldwin%, %cGugu Mbatha-Raw% and %cAlbert Brooks%. Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Wolthoff, Larry Shuman and Elizabeth Cantillon produce the movie which will open in the U.S. on December 25.