Kobe Bryant buys out Philly theater for ‘Just Mercy’ premiere weekend

Kobe Bryant attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

NBA Legend Kobe Bryant bought out a Philadelphia movie theater this weekend so people in his hometown were able to see the new legal drama Just Mercy.

Just Mercy was released nationwide on Friday starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. The film is based on a true story about attorney Bryan Stevenson, played by Jordan, who decides to take the appeal case of a Black man Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, that was wrongfully imprisoned in 1986 for the murder of a white woman.

The former NBA star shared with Twitter this week that he was buying out the Regal UA Riverview Plaza in South Philly for 1 p.m. screenings of the film on Saturday. Bryant made sure viewers had a guaranteed ticket by providing an RSVP link for tickets. The event quickly sold out and required some to join a waitlist, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 2014 Stevenson wrote about his lived experience as a novel with the same title.

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“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 said to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But working with Michael and [director Destin Daniel Cretton] they have been responsive and thoughtful throughout.”

Just Mercy’s limited release on Christmas Day received lots of positive reviews and even scored an 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a “Certified Fresh” film among critics. Bryant’s comments about the movie aligned with its rating, he said “everyone should absorb” its message and that it is a “powerful film.”

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Bryant isn’t the only celebrity giving viewers a chance to see the film for free. Celebs such as Common, John Legend, Lena Waithe, and Kim Kardashian West bought out theaters for the film. The Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and San Francisco 49ers have also joined the ranks of theater buyouts for the film.