With its football blockbuster "Concussion" set to open Christmas Day, Sony is making an offer to all past and present NFL players: If they want to see the movie, the film company will give them a free ticket.
Sony has already hosted private screenings of the film in every NFL city, inviting players to attend and catch a sneak peek of the film. But any players who couldn't make those private showings can go watch the movie at any Cinemark theater. If they show their NFLPA membership card, the theater will issue two free tickets free.
"This is a movie for the players, so we wanted to give them a chance to see it before its nationwide release and free admission during its run in theaters," said producers Ridley Scott and Giannina Scott, in a statement. "The movie is so inspiring. Will Smith gives one of the best performances of his career as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a man who shined a light on the truth."
Private screenings of the film have already spurred a wide range of reactions from the football community, with some praising its depiction of Dr. Bennet Omalu's work in discovering CTE and raising awareness of the dangers of football.
But others have criticized the movie for pulling its punches against the NFL, perhaps in fear of a lawsuit. The league has so far said very little about the film.
"We're not focused on a movie, we're focused on continuing to make progress," said Roger Goodell in some of the only comments the league's office has made thus far.
Earlier this week, ESPN reported that the NFL balked when approached about funding a critical brain study to investigate potential methods of diagnosing CTE while those afflicted are still alive.
But The Boston Globe reports that the NFL's reaction was more nuanced. In reality, it retains "veto power" over the use of a $30 million research fund it has provided to a research partnership with the National Institutes of Health, and it used it to veto funding of a project led by a neurologist who has been highly critical of the NFL's handling of concussions.
So while not a rejection in a technical sense, the NFL made sure it's money wouldn't support that research in any way. The research will still go on, though, and without any involvement of the league.
As NFL players and the public go see "Concussion," they should walk away knowing one thing in particular: the story's end has not yet been written.