Aaron Sorkin is back in the director’s chair, ready to release his sophomore feature film as a director on the world. Today, Netflix unveiled the first trailer for the quickly approaching Trial of the Chicago 7, a legal drama penned and shot by Sorkin, revolving around the heavily publicized trials surrounding protesters arrested during riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. You can see that trailer below. The film hits the service on Oct. 16.
The Chicago Seven is a name given to a group of eight, and then seven men who were charged with conspiracy and “inciting riots” during the emotional turbulence of protests during the 1968 Democratic Convention, which had capped off a year of violence that saw the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Five of the seven defendants were eventually convicted in blockbuster trials for inciting riots, and were sentenced to longer than expected prison time as a result of being held in contempt of court by Judge Julius Hoffman. Later trials eventually reversed these decisions, dropping both the contempt charges and riot convictions, as the Chicago Seven were more or less exonerated and lionized as American protesters who encapsulated the spirit of the countercultural movement of the late 1960s.
The film’s dynamite ensemble cast, meanwhile, is sure to draw a lot of attention. Sacha Baron Cohen stars in a dramatic turn as Abbie Hoffman, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Richard Schultz. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II of the sadly delayed Candyman sequel plays Bobby Seale, while Eddie Redmayne is Tom Hayden. Other stars include Mark Rylance, Alice Kremelberg and Denise Hobbs.
For Sorkin, meanwhile, this release is the end of a long period of work, considering that he initially wrote the screenplay way back in 2007, as timely as it may now seem. At that time, Steven Spielberg was being eyed to direct a cast of mostly unknowns, but Sorkin took the idea back up himself in 2018. Paramount had been set to release the film, and it was already attracting rumors of awards buzz, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, wreaking havoc on the release calendar. That major studio eventually decided to punt, selling The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Netflix in a blockbuster deal back in July for $56 million. It seems safe to say that the world’s largest streamer is probably hoping this could be an awards juggernaut for them, especially in the current climate of protest. Fittingly, The Trial of the Chicago 7 will screen in a limited theatrical release in September, fully qualifying it for major award shows.
The film hits Netflix in the U.S. on Oct. 16, 2020. Check out the dramatic first trailer below.