A Forgotten Tom Hanks Western Is Streaming For Free Right Now

Tom Hanks' Western News of the World is streaming at no cost on Freevee.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

tom hanks

While Tom Hanks has acted in seemingly countless Hollywood movies, audiences don’t generally associate the venerable actor with Westerns such as Yellowstone. Nonetheless, America’s sweetheart Hanks starred in a Western in 2020: News of the World. And it seems that more and more people are discovering this hidden gem of a film because FlixPatrol reports that the movie is now in the Top 10 most-streamed films on the platform Freevee.

If the name of this Tom Hanks Western sounds familiar, then you might just be a literary buff. The film is based on a 2016 novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles, and both the book and the movie have proven popular with Civil War buffs. And, of course, the film is quite popular with audiences who appreciate period pieces.

In terms of plot, the movie is about a former Confederate officer (played by Tom Hanks, naturally) who runs across a young white girl who inexplicably speaks Kiowa, a Native language. After being instructed by a Union army patrol to take the girl to a nearby outpost, the two characters embark on an epic journey filled with environmental dangers as well as nefarious characters, all while developing an unlikely kinship that neither one of them could have seen coming.

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Even though most audiences have never watched this Tom Hanks Western before, it proved very popular among critics. The film has an 88 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with most of the critics noting that the biggest strength of the film is Hanks himself, who manages to imbue his grizzled former Confederate with just the right amount of empathy and pathos. In short: if you generally love Hanks, you are likely to enjoy this movie, which is likely why it is experiencing a real renaissance on streaming.

Finally, the movie only ended up grossing $12.7 million dollars, though that’s not really a fair reflection of how many people initially watched it. Because it was released during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was one of the films that were released simultaneously in theaters and on home streaming (in this case, DirectTV).

In its opening weekend, News of the World came in second only to Wonder Woman 1984, though whether this says more about how many people wanted to see the Tom Hanks Western or how few people wanted to see the Gal Gadot sequel is a bit of an open question.

Regardless of its initial box office, nobody can deny how much of an impression this Tom Hanks film made on the film world. It was nominated for many prestigious awards, including seven Critics’ Choice Award nominations and four Academy Award nominations. Many of these nominations paid special attention to the movie’s excellent score by James Newton Howard, and the one award News of the World took home was Best Original Score in a Feature Film at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards.

Over the years, this Tom Hanks Western has become something of a sleeper hit, with more audiences embracing it as it came to different platforms. In early 2021, Netflix began distributing the movie to international audiences, helping it to find new fans all around the world. Later that year, the movie came to HBO Max domestically, which further helped audiences discover a powerful film they might have otherwise overlooked.

Aside from the star power of Tom Hanks, though, what is it that has made this movie such a hit with just about everyone who sees it? One likely reason is that despite being set in 1870, and despite prominently featuring a former Confederate soldier, the movie is very modern in its exploration of some very complex themes. Such themes include everything from the effects of racism to found family and even workers’ rights, so there is a little bit of something for everybody to enjoy.

And if this sounds like a movie that you might enjoy as well, you can now do so at no cost whatsoever. After being previously distributed by both Netflix and HBO Max, this Tom Hanks sleeper hit is now streaming on Amazon’s Freevee (formerly IMDb TV) for no cost whatsoever. Once you watch this Western, you’ll understand why Hanks’ career won’t be heading off into the sunset anytime soon.