As the holiday season comes to a close, Paramount Pictures delivers one more gift. When the studio’s Martin Luther King Jr. biopic "Selma" opens wide on Jan. 9, the film will play for free in the town where it all started: Selma, Alabama. 

Home of the protest efforts that led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act's passage and, nearly 50 years later, director Ava DuVernay’s recreation of those events, Paramount decided Selma deserved a bit of gratitude for its places in Civil Rights and movie history. "Selma" will open later this month in the Selma Walton Theater and be shown for free to the town’s citizens.

“The city and people of Selma welcomed the production with open arms this past summer and in celebration of the film’s national release on January 9th, we are incredibly excited and very humbled to be bringing Ava’s finished film to the community,” said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures, in a statement.

“With deep gratitude to the people of Selma, Alabama, we are proud to share this powerful film depicting the historic events that took place there 50 years ago,” said producer Oprah Winfrey in the same statement. “I hope generations will watch the film and share their stories of remembrance and history together.”

With Academy Awards voting in full swing, "Selma" enters the ring with recognition. Thus far, the drama has earned a handful of critics group accolades, AFI's"Movie of the Year" recognition, five Independent Spirit nominations, and Golden Globe nominations for song, actor David Oyelowo, Ava DuVernay, and Best Picture. All the love means  "Selma" is an inevitable target for Oscar politics. The Christmas holiday saw a Washington Post momentum-undercutting editorial with plenty of factual nitpicks. Paramount’s gesture ties the picture back to what’s important: Civil Rights achievements and not-too-distant history. A statement from Selma Mayor George P. Evans echoes that.

“I’m so happy that the movie ‘Selma’ will be shown in Selma when it’s released to the nation," Evans said. "I’m so grateful of the fact that Selma has been blessed to have a movie named after it. I’m thankful to the producers, director Ava, and executive producer Paul Garnes for their leadership, and all of the cast for selecting Selma to produce this movie. We must keep in mind that the movie is just that, a movie and not a documentary. May God continue to bless Selma."

"Selma" is now in limited release. The film goes wide Jan. 9.

Matt Patches is a writer and reporter based in New York. His work has appeared on Grantland, New York Magazine's Vulture,, and The Hollywood Reporter. He thinks Groundhog Day is perfect.