Richard Jewell (film)

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Richard Jewell
Theatrical release poster
Directed byClint Eastwood
Screenplay byBilly Ray
Based on
  • "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell"
    by Marie Brenner
  • The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle
    by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen
Produced by
CinematographyYves Bélanger
Edited byJoel Cox
Music byArturo Sandoval
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • November 20, 2019 (2019-11-20) (AFI Fest)
  • December 13, 2019 (2019-12-13) (United States)
Running time
129 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million[2]
Box office$44.65 million[3][4]

Richard Jewell is a 2019 American biographical drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood and written by Billy Ray. It is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell" by Marie Brenner and the 2019 book The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen.[5][6][7][8][9] The film depicts the July 27 Centennial Olympic Park bombing and its aftermath, as security guard Richard Jewell finds a bomb during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and alerts authorities to evacuate, only to later be wrongly accused of having placed the device himself. The film stars Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell,[10] alongside Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Wilde.

The film had its world premiere on November 20, 2019, at the AFI Fest, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 13, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the performances (particularly Bates, Rockwell and Hauser) and Eastwood's direction. However, several journalists criticized the critical portrayal of the reporter that first accused Jewell: Kathy Scruggs (specifically for trading sex for stories, also depicted in Manhunt). It was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the ten best films of the year. The film grossed $43.7 million against its $45 million budget.[2] For her performance, Bates won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress and earned nominations at the Academy Awards[11][12] and Golden Globes.[13]


In 1986, Richard Jewell works as an office supply clerk at the Small Business Administration, where he builds a rapport with attorney Watson Bryant. Eventually, Jewell leaves the firm to pursue a law enforcement career. At one point, Jewell is hired as a sheriff's deputy, but ends up discharged. In early 1996, he works as a security guard at Piedmont College, but is fired after multiple complaints of acting beyond his jurisdiction. Jewell later moves in with his mother Bobi in Atlanta. In the summer of 1996, he works as a security guard at the Olympic Games, monitoring Centennial Park.

In the early morning of July 27, 1996, after chasing off drunken revelers during a Jack Mack and the Heart Attack concert, Jewell notices a suspicious package beneath a bench, which an explosives expert confirms contains a bomb. The security team, police officers, FBI agent Tom Shaw, and Jewell's friend Dave Dutchess move concert attendees away from the bomb before it detonates, and Jewell is heralded as a hero.

After being contacted by the dean of Piedmont College about his dislike and suspicions of Jewell, Shaw and his team determine that Jewell, as a white, male, "wanna-be" police officer, fits the common profile of perpetrators committing similar crimes; they compare him to others who sought glory and attention by rescuing people from a dangerous situation they created themselves.

Shaw is approached by journalist Kathy Scruggs of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and he reveals that Jewell is under FBI suspicion. The Constitution publishes Scruggs' story on the front page, disclosing the FBI's interest in Jewell as a possible suspect. Scruggs makes particular note of Jewell being overweight, the fact he lives with his mother, and work history to reassure herself that he fits the FBI's profile. The story quickly becomes international news.

Jewell, initially unaware of his changing public perception, is lured to the FBI office. Though initially cooperative, he refuses to sign an acknowledgement he has been read his Miranda rights and instead phones Bryant for legal representation. Bryant, now running his own struggling law firm, agrees and makes Jewell aware he is a prime suspect in the bombing.

Shaw and his partner Sam Bennet visit the dean of Piedmont College, who reinforces their suspicion of Jewell. The FBI searches Jewell's home and seizes property including true crime books and a cache of firearms. Jewell admits to Bryant that he has been evading income taxes for years and was once arrested for exceeding his authority. Bryant scolds Jewell for being too collegial with the police officers investigating him, and Jewell admits his ingrained respect for authority makes it difficult for him not to be deferential, even when the authorities are working against him.

Jewell and Bryant confront Scruggs, demanding a retraction and apology, but she stands by her reporting. Still not completely convinced of Jewell's innocence, Bryant and his secretary Nadya time the distance between the phone booth which was discovered to have made the initial threat of the bomb, and the bomb site, concluding it is impossible for someone to phone in the bomb threat and discover the bomb at the time it was found. Scruggs and Shaw come to the same conclusion, and the FBI changes their picture of the crime to include an accomplice. As their case weakens, the FBI try to link Dutchess to Jewell as a possible accomplice and lover.

Bryant arranges a polygraph examination, which Jewell passes, removing Bryant's doubt about his innocence. Bobi holds a press conference and pleads for the investigation to cease so she and her son may proceed with their lives. Jewell and Bryant meet with Shaw and Bennet at the FBI office, and after some irrelevant questions, Jewell realizes they have no evidence against him. When he asks pointedly if they are ready to charge him, their silence convinces him to leave.

Eighty-eight days after being named "a person of interest", Jewell is informed by formal letter that he is no longer under investigation.

In April 2003, Jewell, now a police officer in Luthersville, Georgia, is visited by Bryant who tells him that Eric Rudolph has confessed to the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.

An epilogue states that on August 29, 2007, Jewell died at the age of 44 of complications from diabetes and heart failure. It also mentions that Bryant and Nadya got married and had two sons, both of whom Bobi babysits to this day.



The project was initially announced in February 2014, when Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill teamed to produce the film, with Hill set to play Jewell, and DiCaprio set to play the lawyer who helped Jewell navigate the media blitz that surrounded him.[14] Paul Greengrass began negotiations to direct the film, with Billy Ray writing the screenplay.[15] Other directors considered include Ezra Edelman, known for the 2016 documentary O.J.: Made in America, and David O. Russell,[16][17] before Clint Eastwood was officially attached in early 2019. DiCaprio and Hill did not star in the film, though they remained as producers.[18]

In May 2019, Warner Bros. acquired the film rights from 20th Century Fox, which had been acquired by The Walt Disney Company earlier that year.[19] In June, Sam Rockwell was cast as the lawyer, and Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell. Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, and Ian Gomez were also cast.[20][21][22][23][24] In July 2019, Nina Arianda joined the cast.[25] Filming began on June 24, 2019, in Atlanta.[26]

In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres during her talk show, Eastwood explained how he continued to work on the film despite a looming studio wildfire.[27] Ellen described the November 10 blaze, known as the Barham brush fire, as a "really bad fire that came really close to the lot," adding that "air quality was so bad that everyone evacuated." Clint replied: "I was coming back down to do some work at a sound stage and I saw all this smoke going. And I'm getting closer and closer and its Warner Bros. and its smoke and I got almost up there and I thought, the whole studio's burning down, maybe I'll go in and see if I can retrieve something. So we went on the sound stage and started working and we forgot about it and...everybody said, 'The studio's been evacuated!' And I said, 'We're not evacuated, we're here working!'"[28]


Richard Jewell premiered at the AFI Fest on November 20, 2019[29] and was theatrically released in the United States on December 13, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures.[30]

A trailer for the film was released on October 3, 2019.[31]


Box office[edit]

Richard Jewell grossed $22.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $21.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $43.7 million,[3][4] against a production budget of $45 million.[2] The film's performance was characterized as a box office flop by several media outlets.[32][33][34][35]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Jumanji: The Next Level and Black Christmas, and was initially projected to gross around $10 million from 2,502 theaters in its opening weekend.[36] However, after making $1.6 million on its first day, estimates were lowered to $5 million.[2] The film ended up debuting at $4.7 million, one of the 50 worst wide openings ever.[37] It was Eastwood's worst opening weekend since Bronco Billy in 1980, and the second-lowest opening of his career.[38] It finished fourth at the box office, behind Jumanji: The Next Level, Frozen II, and Knives Out.[39][40]

The film fell 45% to $2.6 million in its second weekend, finishing in seventh.[41] In its third weekend the film made $3 million (and a total of $5.4 million over the five-day Christmas weekend), finishing tenth.[42]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 77% based on 293 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Richard Jewell simplifies the real-life events that inspired it—yet still proves that Clint Eastwood remains a skilled filmmaker of admirable economy."[43] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[44] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[2]


The film came under fire for its portrayal of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs, who had died of a prescription drug overdose in 2001.[45] Criticism was directed at the film for depicting her as offering to engage in sex with an FBI agent in return for confidential information.[46] The editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in an open letter that this depicted incident was "entirely false and malicious".[47] Employees of the newspaper demanded the film have a prominent disclaimer that "some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license."[48][49] Critical commentators argued that the film perpetuates a sexist trope of women journalists exchanging sex for information.[50][51]

Wilde, who plays Scruggs in the film, defended her role and stated there was a sexist double standard, in that Jon Hamm's portrayal of the FBI agent was not held to the same scrutiny.[52] In response it was argued that Wilde's character was based on a real person, whereas the FBI agent was an amalgamation of multiple individuals[52] and that the purpose of the film was to expose and condemn the character assassination of Jewell. However, in the process, some insisted the film committed the same act against Scruggs.[50][53]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Academy Awards February 9, 2020 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated [54][55]
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards January 19, 2020 Readers' Choice Richard Jewell Nominated
American Film Institute January 3, 2020 Top Ten Films of the Year Richard Jewell Won [56]
Club Média Ciné 2021 Best Foreign Film Richard Jewell Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society December 9, 2019 Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell Nominated [57]
Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Paul Walter Hauser Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association January 10, 2019 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated
Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema Clint Eastwood and Billy Ray Nominated
Golden Globe Awards January 5, 2020 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated [58]
Hawaii Film Critics Society January 13, 2020 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association January 9, 2020 Breakthrough Performance - Actor Paul Walter Hauser Nominated
Game Changer Award Paul Walter Hauser Won
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 2, 2020 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated
National Board of Review Awards December 3, 2019 Top 10 Films Richard Jewell Won [59]
Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Won
Best Breakthrough Performance Paul Walter Hauser Won
North Texas Film Critics Association December 16, 2019 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates Nominated


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  2. ^ a b c d e D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 14, 2019). "'Jumanji: The Next Level' Advancing To $51M+ Opening; 'Richard Jewell' & 'Black Christmas' Earn Lumps Of Coal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Richard Jewell (2019)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Richard Jewell (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
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  6. ^ Brenner, Marie (February 1997). "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Alexander, Kent; Salwen, Kevin (November 5, 2019). The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-1419734625.
  8. ^ Lee, Benjamin (December 13, 2019). "Stop defending an irresponsible movie and start apologising". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  9. ^ Tracy, Marc (December 12, 2019). "Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' Is at the Center of a Media Storm". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  10. ^ ‘Richard Jewell’ Star Paul Walter Hauser Says Landing Lead Role “Was A Total Shock” – The Contenders NY Video – Deadline
  11. ^ Kathy Bates On ‘Richard Jewell’ Controversy: “I Worried It Would Affect How People Would Feel Toward The Film” – Deadline
  12. ^ Laura Dern wins Best Supporting Actress - Oscars on YouTube
  13. ^ Golden Globes
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 4, 2014). "'Wolf Of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio & Jonah Hill Plan Re-Team In Story Of Richard Jewell; Labelled Hero, Then Falsely Vilified As Bomber At 1996 Atlanta Olympics". Deadline.
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 11, 2014). "Paul Greengrass Circling Richard Jewell Pic With Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill". Deadline.
  16. ^ Han, Angie (April 1, 2015). "Clint Eastwood Eyes Richard Jewell Movie Starring Jonah Hill". /Film.
  17. ^ Busch, Anita (November 15, 2016). "'O.J. Made In America' Helmer Ezra Edelman In Talks To Direct Richard Jewell Movie".
  18. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 18, 2019). "Clint Eastwood Circling 'Ballad Of Richard Jewell' For Fox/Disney". Deadline.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 24, 2019). "Warner Bros. Lands Clint Eastwood's 'The Ballad of Richard Jewell' From Fox-Disney (EXCLUSIVE)".
  20. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 10, 2019). "Sam Rockwell Joins Clint Eastwood's 'The Ballad of Richard Jewell'".
  21. ^ "Clint Eastwood Casts 'BlacKkKlansman' Actor as Lead in Richard Jewell Movie (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. June 12, 2019.
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  23. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 18, 2019). "Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm Join Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' (EXCLUSIVE)".
  24. ^ Galuppo, Mia (June 20, 2019). "Ian Gomez Joins Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell Movie (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  25. ^ Kit, Borys (July 17, 2019). "Tony Winner Nina Arianda Joins Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  26. ^ "Feature Films: 'Jewell'". Backstage.
  27. ^ DeGeneres, Ellen (December 9, 2019). "Clint Eastwood Went to Work Despite a Looming Studio Fire". The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Season 17. Episode 64. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  28. ^ iNews (December 9, 2019). "Clint Eastwood didn't let Southern California wildfires keep him Warner Bros lot despite evacuation". Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  29. ^ Day-Ramos, Dino (October 8, 2019). "Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' To Make World Premiere At AFI Fest". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  30. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 27, 2019). "Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' Enters Awards Season With December Release". Deadline. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  31. ^ "RICHARD JEWELL - Official Trailer [HD]". Warner Bros. Pictures. October 3, 2019 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ Mendelson, Scott. "Friday Box Office: 'Richard Jewell' And 'Black Christmas' Flop, 'Uncut Gems' And 'Bombshell' Break Out". Forbes. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  33. ^ ""Richard Jewell" flops at the box office its opening weekend following controversy". Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  34. ^ McCarthy, Tyler (December 16, 2019). "Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' flops at the box office in its opening weekend despite critical acclaim". Fox News. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  35. ^ "Clint Eastwood suffers worst opening in four decades as controversial 'Richard Jewell' flops". Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  36. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 11, 2019). "Can 'Jumanji' Sequel Achieve Next-Level Box Office Success?". Variety. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  37. ^ "'Jumanji 2' Roars to $60M Opening While A24's 'Uncut Gems' Delivers Studio Record Debut". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
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  40. ^ "Box Office Bust: Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' Derailed by Apathy, Not Controversy". Hollywood Reporter. December 16, 2019. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  41. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 22, 2019). "'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker' Force Grips 3rd Best December Opening With $193M+; Drat Those 'Cats' $7.6M, 'Bombshell' $5.8M – Saturday AM Early Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  42. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 28, 2019). "'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker' Chasing 'Last Jedi' With $76M 2nd Weekend; 'Little Women' Not So Tiny With $29M 5-Day". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
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  44. ^ "Richard Jewell Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
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  46. ^ Lewis, Hilary; Sinha-Roy, Piya (December 2, 2019). "Olivia Wilde Defends 'Richard Jewell' Journalist Portrayal Amid Backlash". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  47. ^ Brett, Jennifer (December 11, 2019). "Cox, AJC seek 'Richard Jewell' disclaimer in letter to Clint Eastwood". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  48. ^ Cohen, Li (December 10, 2019). ""Richard Jewell" film under fire for depiction of Atlanta-Journal Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs". CBS News. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  49. ^ Lang, Brent (December 9, 2019). "Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell': Atlanta Newspaper Demands Disclaimer on Depiction of Female Reporter". Variety. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
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  51. ^ Nathoo, Zulekha. "Why new Richard Jewell film is being blasted for 'misogynistic' portrayal of journalist". CBC News.
  52. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 3, 2019). "'Richard Jewell' Controversy: Olivia Wilde Calls Out Double Standard of Sexism". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  53. ^ Klimek, Chris (December 12, 2019). "Sneer Campaign: 'Richard Jewell'". NPR. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  54. ^ "Netflix gets the most Oscar nods of any studio, with 'Irishman' and 'Marriage Story' nominated for Best Picture". TechCrunch. January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  55. ^ 2020|
  56. ^ "AFI Awards 2019 Honorees Announced". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  57. ^ The 2019 Detroit Film Critics Society (DFCS) Nominations, Next best picture.
  58. ^ Golden Globes Nominations: ‘Marriage Story’, Netflix, ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ Lead Way in Film – Full List of Nominations, Dead line 2019-12.
  59. ^ ‘The Irishman’ Named Best Film by National Board of Review, Quentin Tarantino Wins Best Director, Dead line 2019-12.

External links[edit]