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Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Nike Film ‘Air’ to Make Surprise Debut at SXSW (EXCLUSIVE)

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Nike drama “Air” is heading to Austin, Texas.

The movie will premiere at South by Southwest as the festival’s closing night film on March 18. The screening is taking place at the Paramount Theatre at 6:30 p.m.

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Amazon is releasing “Air,” which centers on real-life Nike shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro and his pursuit of basketball phenom Michael Jordan, in theaters on April 5. According to the film’s logline, “this moving story follows the career-defining gamble of an unconventional team with everything on the line, the uncompromising vision of a mother who knows the worth of her son’s immense talent, and the basketball phenom who would become the greatest of all time.”

Amazon declined to comment about the film’s SXSW premiere.

However, SXSW confirmed the news in a press release the following day.

“We are so excited to close out the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival with ‘Air,’” said Claudette Godfrey, VP of film and TV at SXSW. “Ben Affleck has crafted an exceptional film filled with outstanding performances that capture the emotional ride behind the creation of this legendary brand. We know it will be a true one-of-a-kind experience.”

Affleck said he could not “imagine a better spot for the launch of the movie.”

“I could not be more thrilled to surprise the SXSW audience with our very first screening of ‘Air,'” he said. “The energy in Austin is in a class of its own, and we know the crowd will respond to the film’s inspiring story and brilliant performances.”

Affleck and Damon are reuniting as Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro and Nike co-founder Phil Knight, respectively, while Viola Davis is starring as Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris. “Air” also features Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker and Julius Tennon. The character of Michael Jordan, whose Air Jordans revolutionized the sneaker industry, doesn’t appear in the film. Alex Convery wrote the screenplay.

Affleck also directed the R-rated film, marking his first return behind the camera since 2016’s “Live by Night.” He won an Oscar in 2012 for “Argo,” which took home the prize for best picture. And, of course, Affleck and Damon scored Academy Awards in 1998 for co-writing “Good Will Hunting.”

SXSW is taking place from March 10-19. Other notable premieres include a surprise screening of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” Paramount’s “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” “Evil Dead Rise” and the Eva Longoria-directed biopic “Flamin’ Hot.”

(Updated on Tuesday, March 14 with confirmation from SXSW.)

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