In September, the New York Times ran an article with the headline “Sony Altered Concussion Film to Prevent NFL Protests, Emails Show.” A supposedly damning account of how Concussion, starring Will Smith and directed by Peter Landesman, cut scenes from the movie to appease the NFL – a story, it appears, which based most of its findings from the emails obtained from the infamous Sony leak.
Then people started seeing the film, which seems about as “anti” a movie can be against one organization, in this case, the NFL. The film depicts the story of Dr. Bennett Omalu (Smith), the doctor who first diagnosed CTE, a brain condition found in many former NFL players that is brought on by concussion and Omalu’s fight for credibility against the powerful league.
We spoke to Landesman at his New York City hotel and he did not hold back on his feelings about having the credibility of his film questioned.
The New York Times ran a piece in September saying Concussion was altered to appease the NFL, but then I see this movie and I found it to be very anti-NFL. What happened there?
You should ask them. I think it’s a really great question. It’s an article by a reporter about a movie he’d never seen before and seeming to pass judgment on a movie he’d never seen before, which is questionable journalism at its best.
Do you think the NFL planted this?
I think it was a reporter looking really, really hard for a story that wasn’t there. And if he couldn’t find one, he was going to make one up.
[ED. NOTE: Uproxx reached out to the New York Times for a response to Landesman’s accusation. The paper declined to comment.]
Was anything taken out of Concussion?
No. Look, it’s just part of the normal editing process of the movie. My first assembly, with all the scenes cut together, was four hours long – how do you fit it inside of a two-hour breadbox? It was just part of the normal editing process. Things that came out made the movie slow, or wasn’t about the focus, or I took something out because of performance. There are all sorts of reasons a director takes stuff out of a movie.