Every summer film season brings with it a number of intriguing “counter-programming” options for moviegoers not in the mood to watch the latest studio tentpole release – and in 2016, Free State of Jones will be among those offerings that fall under the former category. Written and directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games), the Civil War drama stars Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight: a real-life Southern farmer who led a revolution of his own within the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War and the Reconstruction era that followed.
The first trailer released for Free State of Jones outlined how Newton goes from being a frustrated Confederate soldier – disillusioned that he and his fellow Southerners are fighting in (and dying in) a war that serves little purpose beyond keeping wealthy plantation owners rich – to a revolutionary figure, who join forces with other small farmers and slaves to secede from the Confederacy and form their own “Free State of Jones”. STX Entertainment has now released a second trailer for the film that focuses more on Jones and his fellow rebels’ efforts to protect their “Free State” after it’s been formed. You can watch that preview, above.
McConaughey leads a cast in Free State of Jones that includes Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), Sean Bridgers (Room), Keri Russell (The Americans), and McConaughey’s own young Mud costar, Jacob Lofland. Meanwhile, Ross is joined behind the camera by Hunger Games film series production designer Philip Messina, costume designer Louise Froglet (Unbroken, The Finest Hours) and cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (The Theory of Everything), among others.
Ross has a solid track record as director that speaks for itself. Meanwhile, McConaughey’s name has become all but synonymous with quality films in recent years (Magic Mike, Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, and so forth) and the noteworthy supporting cast for Free State of Jones further suggests this historical drama/thriller should be a worthwhile addition to the larger sub-genre of U.S. Civil War movies. Free State of Jones is McConaughey’s film offering for adults this year too, though he’s lending his voice to two family-friendly animated features in 2016; Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings and Illumination Entertainment’s Sing, respectively.
Question is, can Free State of Jones attract a decent-sized crowd when it arrives? Director Jodie Foster’s Money Monster hasn’t had that much luck carving out space for itself as “counter-programming” since it hit theaters one week after Captain America: Civil War opened domestically. Similarly, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys hasn’t achieved much in the way of crossover appeal this month, either (despite it receiving better reviews than Money Monster). Free State of Jones will face Independence Day: Resurgence during its opening weekend at the box office, so it remains to be seen if the film will be any more commercially successful than its predecessors have been during this summer movie season thus far.
Free State of Jones opens in U.S. theaters on June 24th, 2016.
Source: STX Entertainment