On Friday, Paramount Pictures announced that Ava DuVernay's Oscar-nominated movie about the civil rights movement, Selma, will be free to rent on all digital platforms for the entire month of June, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In a statement released by the studio, Paramount said that it wanted to make the film accessible so that people could educate themselves about the history of racism in the United States.
"We hope this small gesture will encourage people throughout the country to examine our nation's history and reflect on the ways that racial injustice has infected our society," read the statement from the studio. "The key message of Selma is the importance of equality, dignity and justice for all people. Clearly, that message is as vital today as it was in 1965."
DuVernay confirmed via Twitter that the film would indeed be offered for free rental. Her tweet also emphasized the importance of studying the past as a means of learning how to handle current problems.The film is a historical narrative about the pivotal march for civil rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, per The Hollywood Reporter. The march was part of an effort to secure voting rights for African Americans. The movie was nominated for Best Picture for the 2015 Academy Awards but did not win.
Several other studios have chosen to make movies about the civil rights movement and the history of racism in the U.S. available to rent for free.
Warner Bros. announced on Tuesday that its movie Just Mercy would be free to rent on all U.S. digital platforms. The studio stated that they believe the movie tells a powerful story that can help inform viewers about the systemic racism that exists within the U.S. The movie follows a black man who is wrongfully accused of killing a white woman.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix decided to make DuVernay's documentary 13th, which is available on their platform, free to everyone by making it available on the Netflix YouTube account. This documentary examines the prison system within the United States and the system's particular bias against men of color.
The Criterion Channel announced on Thursday that it would be offering several films made by black filmmakers for free to non-subscribers by removing their paywall on this content, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The decisions to offer movies about racism and movies by black filmmakers for free come as the nation reels from the death of George Floyd during an incident with the Minneapolis Police Department. The companies that control these films all stated that making them available without charge provides people the opportunity to educate themselves.