How to Watch ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ on HBO Max

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Jean Bentley
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Check out one of the buzziest titles of Oscar season from the comfort of your own home: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” starring LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya and directed by Shaka King, hits select theaters and HBO Max on Friday, Feb. 12.

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The film, about Illinois Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and William O’Neal, the FBI informant who infiltrated the chapter and provided information that led to the raid that ultimately killed Hampton, is available to stream for one month following its release date. Not an HBO Max subscriber? You can join for just $14.99 per month, or sign up before March 1 to take advantage of a promotional offer that will save you more than 20% off the regular rate if you pre-pay for six months in advance. With the deal, you’ll pay just $69.99 for six months, saving you $20 off the monthly price.

You’ll also be set up to watch the rest of Warner Bros.’ 2021 film titles, as the studio is set to release its entire slate in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously — yes, for the entire year. The groundbreaking hybrid model was first revealed with the Christmas Day release of “Wonder Woman 1984,” and has since been tested via crime drama “The Little Things” and now “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Wrote IndieWire’s Kate Erbland in her review of the film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, “One part Hampton biopic, one part unnerving portion of American (and all-too-recent) history, King’s drama is a nuanced portrait of a people, a place, and a betrayal that has never before received such a full telling.”

And while it’s filled with plenty of accomplishments, “mostly, though, it’s Kaluuya and Stanfield — two actors who seem destined to be hailed for career-best turns with every subsequent project — who make ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ such an incendiary watch,” Erbland wrote.

Director King told IndieWire’s Tambay Obenson that he originally envisioned a story about the history of the Black Panthers organization but eventually zeroed in on Hampton’s story as the focus for his second feature film, following his 2013 debut “Newlyweeds.”

“Maybe I was naive at the time, but I thought that a film about a Black Panther, produced by the director [Ryan Coogler] of a superhero movie that grossed over a billion dollars, a financer [Charles D. King] who had committed to putting up half the budget, and two of the best young Black actors working today starring, that studios would be lining up,” King said. “But it was a surprise to me when things didn’t play out that way. There’s been all this conversation about Hollywood being more diverse, but I have yet to see much change in how the industry engages Black creatives.”

Ultimately, his finished film is exactly the movie he wanted to make, despite the difficulties of completing post-production while scattered across the country during the pandemic (filming wrapped just before the world shut down in early 2020).

Said King, “With this film, I just hope audiences are inspired to learn more about our country’s history as a suppressor of dissenting voices. There’s been a lot of disinformation about the Panthers, painting them as brutes, like how Black people have been vilified in media from the very beginning. So I just hope this film enlightens people.”

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