Whitey Bulger Documentary Will Finally Hit Mainstream Theaters
While there’re two films based on the life of infamous South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in the works in Hollywood, a documentary that focused on the summer trial of the mob boss, and aired at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is set to hit the big screen this summer.
In an announcement on Wednesday, The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures said they acquired rights to the film, called Whitey: The United States of America VS. James J. Bulger, so they could bring it to larger venues to be viewed by the general public. To date, the film has only been shown at select theaters across the country, with limited capacity at each venue.
Directed and produced by Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger, the visionary behind movies like the Paradise Lost trilogy, the documentary will be played in Boston, as well as other major theaters across the country beginning June 27. As part of the acquisition, the film will later be aired on CNN, according to Magnolia representatives.
“It’s still a little too early to speak to specific bookings, but it will open [in] the top markets,” a spokesperson that heads Magnolia Pictures’ regional marketing division said.
The movie focuses mainly on the summer trial, leading up to Bulger’s conviction and incarceration, and threads together the stories of the families impacted by Bulger’s former reign over the city.
Some of Bulger’s alleged victims’ family members were unable to see the film when it premiered for one-night only in Brookline this past January, causing them to speak out against Berlinger. But the film’s creator later vowed to host a special second screening specifically for them.
Here’s how Magnolia has described the documentary:
Bulger wielded a mystique as the Robin Hood of South Boston, his legend captured the imagination of the entire country even as he terrorized a city with mayhem and brutal violence with apparent impunity. Separating the man from the myth, this riveting documentary challenges conventional wisdom by detailing shocking new allegations about law enforcement complicity that will shock even those familiar with the case.
In a Q and A in January, Berlinger said the approach of the film was to have a multiplicity of views and allow the viewer to act as a jury member in the case. He said it’s a montage that looks at different points of view during the case and trial that further explores Bulger’s legacy and his history.
The film’s director and filmmakers worked hard to gain unprecedented access— including to Bulger himself, who has never before agreed to appear in any media—to both prosecutors and Bulger’s defense team. “I think this is a film that all Bostonians should see, so I welcome the opportunity to share the film with a greater number of people through this big screen release,” Berlinger told Boston.