Wed. May 27th, 2020

Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’ to World Premiere at AFI Fest as Centerpiece Gala

Will Smith in Concussion, the AFI Fest's Centerpiece Film
Will Smith in Concussion, the AFI Fest’s Centerpiece Film


AFI Fest will see the world premiere of the NFL drama Concussion starring Will Smith a the Centerpiece Gala. Past Centerpiece Galas have included Inherent Vice in 2014 and Out of the Furnace in 2013.

The film tells the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian doctor who discovered a link between football injuries and longterm trauma and early on-set dementia that led to high-profile deaths among NFL players.

Most recently, as part of the ongoing leaks of Sony emails, it was discovered that Sony might have acquiesced to the NFL’s request to make edits to the film. Sony denies this claim.

There are some that think Concussion and Will Smith can break into the awards conversation, especially with a surprisingly open field in Best Actor. A comeback narrative could be built for him after a series of flops although Johnny Depp in Black Mass has kind of already been given the comeback narrative over the last month. Timing is a fickle mistress though and Smith could benefit from the already waning interest in Depp and his film.

The film opens on Christmas Day from Sony Pictures and also stars Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Paul Reiser and Luke Wilson.

AFI has already announced that its opening night film will be bookended by two Brad Pitt films; By the Sea, starring Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt, who also directed the pic, will open the festival. Adam McKay’s The Big Short, starring Christian Bale, Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell, will close the fest on Nov. 12th.

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