Those looking to see a movie for free will have their chance Friday and Saturday, thanks to two investors-turned-philanthropists who bought out both nights’ showings of “Just Mercy” at Movieworks Cinema 4.
The move is a nod to Teton County residents Chris and Crystal Sacca’s work on reforming the criminal justice system. The Saccas are the husband-and wife-team behind Lowercase Capital, a venture capital firm that made early investments in — and reaped profits from — Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Twilio, Stripe and Kickstarter. Their success won Chris Sacca a No. 2 finish on the 2017 Forbes Midas List, which ranks the best dealmakers in technology-oriented venture capital.
Since 2017, however, the Saccas have pivoted away from investing and toward philanthropic-, political- and advocacy-oriented efforts. Prison reform is one of the causes they champion, alongside combating climate change, shoring up American democracy and promoting diversity in the world of technology and startups.
Frank Londy, the owner of Jackson Hole Cinemas, said the setup for the weekend is unusual.
“We’ve had plenty of buyouts” — the Grand Teton Music Festival frequently rents theaters to screen “The Met: Live in HD,” for example — and “we do them regularly,” he said, but “it’s a fairly unusual event where somebody’s inviting the town.”
The Saccas could not be reached for comment by press time.
Londy said the couple reached out to him (through a representative) because of their interest in prison reform.
The film, an adaption of Bryan Stevenson’s New York Times best-selling book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” is based on the true story of the younger Bryan Stevenson defending Walter McMillian, one of his first clients.
McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, was sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl despite evidence proving his innocence and shaky testimony against him. Stevenson, played by Michael B. Jordan, had just moved to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or lacking proper representation.
The film has picked up nods from the African American Film Critics Association and National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. On Rotten Tomatoes, “Just Mercy” had an 80% critic rating and a 99% audience approval rating at press time.
“That’s not bad,” Londy said. “This isn’t a throwaway.”
In their new role as activists the Saccas have worked closely with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, a nonprofit that provides formerly and currently incarcerated people with support networks and access to housing, jobs and education, among other things.
They have also supported the Bail Project, which puts up bail money for those who can’t afford it, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which advocates for people’s constitutional rights.
The Saccas are expected to attend a showing, though which has yet to be determined.
“Their intent is to have everyone who comes on those two days be admitted free as their guest,” Londy said.