“Concussion,” the new Will Smith movie about the NFL and concussions, was the victim of some edits. Seemingly out of fear for what the NFL could or would do. Despite the fact that Sony has no business ties to the NFL. From The New York Times:
In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony Pictures executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the N.F.L. by altering the script and marketing the film more as a story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league.
Brands rule the world and it always seems that the NFL has the strongest, most powerful brand.
"“Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn’t planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn’t be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge,” Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email to three top studio executives about how to position the movie. “We’ll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”"
The NFL fines players for wearing the wrong socks and tries to suspend star players with little to no evidence of any wrongdoing, so you can only imagine what the league would do if someone actually wronged them.
Another email noted that some “unflattering moments for the N.F.L.” were deleted or changed, while in another correspondence, a top Sony lawyer is said to have taken “most of the bite” out of the film “for legal reasons with the N.F.L. and that it was not a balance issue.” Another string of emails discuss an aborted effort to reach out to the N.F.L.
Why bother? As we’ve learned, it’s much easier to just give up than fight the NFL.
In other emails, Sony executives discussed how to make the movie appear less threatening. In several emails they said that press materials should note that Mr. Smith likes football and one of his sons played the game. In another email, Hannah Minghella, a top executive, suggested that “rather than portray the N.F.L. as one corrupt organization can we identify the individuals uals within the N.F.L. who were guilty of denying/covering up the truth.”
That’s like making a movie about a scientist learning that smoking is bad, while being very careful to not offend the Tobacco Industry and making sure to note that the actors love a refreshing cigarette.