The biopic Hidden Figures scored an early release date on Christmas Day to enter the 2017 Oscar race. Fox announced the NASA film will get a limited opening on the holiday, with a wide release Jan. 6. That moves the film up a week from the previous Jan. 13 date.
Atlanta Black Star initially reported on the drama in February when Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer were confirmed to be part of the film. Then, singer Janelle Monae joined, rounding out the lead roles.
The actresses will portray Black mathematician Katherine Johnson and her colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, respectively. The women helped with the Space Race by sending astronaut John Glenn to space in 1962.
The true story is based on the book Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. Written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the narrative non-fiction story attracted a big-screen adaptation by director Theodore Melfi well ahead of its Sept. 2016 release.
Aside from the lead actresses, the Hidden Figures cast also includes Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Kevin Costner. Pharrell Williams is one of the film’s producers. He will also take part in the movie’s soundtrack.
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According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film had been rumored to be in the running for the Oscars after its preview at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. At the time, the film was not completed.
During a Q&A at TIFF, Henson explained the film’s necessity given the present racially-charged political climate.
“You see women [in the movie] come together and support each other,” she said. “Not cat-claw, fight [and] hate on each other for one role. But when you embrace each other and you stick together – look what these women were able to accomplish. The power in women sticking together – we will change the world.”
“No women were mentioned in Apollo 13,” co-star Spencer said. “I’m sad that Dorothy [Vaughn] and Mary [Jackson] can’t see this day, but I’m proud that [98-year-old] Katherine Johnson will.”