Legal drama Just Mercy hit theaters nationwide on Friday, but this weekend, some Philadelphians can catch a screening of the movie for free, courtesy of former NBA star and Lower Merion High School graduate Kobe Bryant.
Bryant this week said on social media that he bought out the Regal UA Riverview Plaza in South Philly for 1 p.m. screenings of the film on Saturday. The former Laker also included a link for fans to register for free tickets, but the event is currently full (those interested, however, can still join a waitlist).
Starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy follows attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), who appeals the wrongful conviction of Walter McMillian (Fox), an African-American man on death row who was wrongfully imprisoned for the 1986 murder of a white woman. The film is based on a true story recounted in Milton, Del., native Stevenson’s 2014 book of the same name.
“I felt really strongly the movie had to be curated in exactly the right way, that there wouldn’t be a Hollywood compromise, or a reversion to formula," Stevenson told the Inquirer. "But working with Michael and [director Destin Daniel Cretton] they have been responsive and thoughtful throughout.”
Following the film’s limited release on Christmas Day, Just Mercy earned a number of positive reviews, and scored a “Certified Fresh” rating on movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes with an overall score of 81% among critics. In his tweet, Bryant called the movie a “powerful film,” and added that “everyone should absorb" its message.
While Bryant is giving some Philly theater-goers a chance to check out the film for free, he isn’t he only celeb buying out theaters for screenings. As BET reports, a long list of well-known actors, musicians, and sports stars have been doing the same, including musicians Common and John Legend, actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe, and reality star Kim Kardashian West. Sports teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and San Francisco 49ers have also joined in the theater buyouts for the film.