Just Mercy, based on the Equal Justice Initiative founder and executive director Bryan Stevenson, has been moved up three weeks from January 17, 2020 to a limited release Christmas day 2019. After its limited opening, it’ll open to a wide release January 10.
The purpose for the move is so the film can qualify for Oscar nominations. The fact that the film has been moved up shows that Warner Bros. believes in the film’s chances for awards season. Rightly so, since the film will follow Stevenson’s first case as an attorney, in which he represented Black death-row prisoner Walter McMillian. According to Variety, McMillian was wrongly convicted in 1986 for murder despite being at a barbecue, surrounded by witnesses regarding his whereabouts. Stevenson was able to prove that the prosecution had suppressed evidence, and McMillan was exonerated in 1993. Stevenson wrote of the trial in his 2014 book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, which the film is based on.
Jordan stars as Stevenson with Jamie Foxx co-starring as McMillian. The film will also include O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, Rob Morgan and Rafe Spall. Destin Daniel Cretton directs the film from his and Andrew Lanham’s adaptation of Stevenson’s book.
Just Mercy is the first film Warner Bros. that will utilize their joint production diversity policy with Jordan’s Outlier Society. The film also reflects Jordan’s growing relationship with Warner Bros.; in January, Jordan signed a first look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures Group.