Moviegoers generally missed out on the race-themed legal drama Just Mercy, which slipped unheralded into four theaters on Christmas Day in 2019 before opening wide in early January. The film, starring Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan and Django Unchained’s Jamie Foxx, was designed as a prestige picture, a serious awards contender meant to qualify for Oscar consideration, but while the film spent more than five months quietly simmering along in theatrical release worldwide, it only brought in about $50 million at the worldwide box office. Now, Warner Bros. is offering viewers in the United States the chance to watch it at home for free on a variety of streaming platforms.
The film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, Marvel’s upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), is based on the nonfiction memoir by law professor and Equal Justice Initiative executive director Bryan Stevenson. Jordan plays Stevenson as he graduates Harvard Law in the 1980s and moves to Alabama, inspired to help death-row inmates appeal their sentences. He ends up defending Walter (Jamie Foxx), a man accused of murdering a white woman, and placed on death row even though the evidence proves his innocence. It’s expressly a film about systemic racism and the failures of the American justice system, and about the importance of standing up against prejudiced policing.
As protests have spread in major American cities over the police killing of unarmed black civilian George Floyd, activists on social media platforms proclaimed Tuesday, June 2 “Blackout Tuesday,” a day intended for pausing and reflection by users of sites like Instagram and Twitter. Major companies and brands have scrambled to show support, with declarations of respect and solidarity for the protestors and for victims of systemic racial oppression and violence. Warner Bros. is offering Just Mercy for free as part of that support movement.
In a statement made to social media channels, Warner Bros. offered the film as a resource for viewers interested in educating themselves about prejudice in the American legal system.
We believe in the power of story. #JustMercy is one resource we can offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, #JustMercy will be available to rent for free on digital platforms in the US. @eji_org pic.twitter.com/3B2IHMNk7E— Just Mercy (@JustMercyFilm) June 2, 2020
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