On Friday evening, the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died after a bout of pancreatic cancer. The nation continued to grieve over the weekend and into this week, mourning the loss of someone so monumental and influential. This week, Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court and, fittingly, will then be the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol before being interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
But another, more accessible tribute is being paid to her this week. Focus Features and Magnolia Pictures have partnered up to rerelease their Ginsburg-centric features in theaters this weekend. Focus Features’ On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Armie Hammer as her beloved husband, Martin Ginsburg, and Magnolia Pictures’ documentary RBG will each play in tribute to the late Supreme Court justice.
Both movies will play in 1,000 theaters across the U.S. where theaters are open starting this Friday, as well as being available on-demand. Net proceeds from the box office will go to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation in support of its Women’s Rights Project a fitting recipient: Ginsburg co-founded the project in 1972. At the time, she explained her decision to work with the ACLU by saying, “I wanted to be a part of a general human rights agenda … [promoting] the equality of all people and the ability to be free.”
In partnership with Participant Media, Focus and Magnolia are also launching the #ThankYouRuth social tribute campaign. Fans can share their stories, memories, and posts honoring Ginsburg’s life and legacy using that hashtag. They said in a joint statement
“Justice Ginsburg spent her life upholding fairness, the law, and the rights of all Americans. These films highlight only a small portion of her legacy to screen, but her vast impact on our country goes far beyond them. We hope that moviegoers are re-inspired by her passion, her courage and take that back into the world.”
Filmmakers behind On the Basis of Sex and RBG also weighed in. Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the directors of RBG, reflected on Ginsburg’s impact. “From her Supreme Court chambers to her exercise room, what a privilege and a joy it was for us to train our cameras on RBG, and capture the story of this feisty, determined, brilliant woman who used her talents to make our world a better place,” they said.
The documentary, which followed the rise of Ginsburg to the highest court in the land and her transformation into cultural icon “The Notorious RBG,” was a hit domestically, earning $14 million at the box office. It also earned two Oscar nominations for Best Feature Documentary and Best Original Song for Diane Warren’s “I’ll Fight.”
The success of the documentary, which was made under the CNN Films banner, surprised even the CNN Films team. Amy Entelis, executive producer for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, spoke of that surprise and why the documentary struck such a chord with its audience:
“We never expected the film to generate the reaction that it did. Many people were unfamiliar with her pre-judicial career as a lawyer for the ACLU and how she played such an essential role in securing equal rights, particularly for women, which meant all Americans benefitted. The stories of her personal struggle to become an attorney make her singular contributions to the law that much more poignant.”
A few days after Ginsburg’s death, On the Basis of Sex star Felicity Jones spoke of the impact Ginsburg had in her powerful life, not just on her personally but on the world at large. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave us hope, a public figure who stood for integrity and justice – a responsibility she did not wear lightly,” Jones said. “She will be missed not only as a beacon of light in these difficult times but for her razor-sharp wit and extraordinary humanity. She taught us all so much. I will miss her deeply.”
The legacy of Ginsburg, who became just the second woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court and was a tireless champion of women’s rights and the civil rights of others, can not be overstated or exaggerated. There are few people in American history who have had such a tangible and personal impact on legislation that improved the lives of others and moved our country toward the better.