PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “Air,” the film that chronicles the events leading to the formation of Nike’s prolific Air Jordan brand, was released in theaters on Wednesday. Numerous critics have already given the film a seal of approval, with some saying that it could be a strong contender for next year’s awards season.

Oscar-Award-winning actor Ben Affleck directed “Air,” in addition to starring in it as Portland-raised Nike co-founder Phil Knight. The film’s star-studded cast also includes big names like Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis and Marlon Wayans.

The movie tells the audience the story of how former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro courted then-rookie Michael Jordan in hopes that he’d sign a brand deal with Nike, at a time when the company’s basketball division was trying to make a name for itself.

But in 1984, the NBA legend officially signed a five-year, $2.5 million contract with Nike, birthing the iconic Air Jordan shoe line that’s brought in $19 billion in revenue within the past five years alone.

According to Affleck’s director’s statement, “Air” isn’t solely Jordan’s story, but there wouldn’t be one at all without him. The director says he wouldn’t have made the movie without contacting the former Chicago Bulls player first.

Jordan, portrayed by rising actor Damian Young, rarely appears in the film. When he does, his face is hardly shown in any of the shots. Affleck says this is because the filmmakers didn’t want to “shatter the illusion” of the athlete, and wanted viewers to invoke their own memories of him instead.

“….this is a story that exemplifies how — even before he stepped on an NBA court — [Jordan] completely transformed the world of sports marketing and how athletes are compensated, championed by his mother, who envisioned his future and knew his worth,” Affleck said in a statement. “In the course of developing the film, I came to the realization that the fulcrum of the movie is Viola Davis’s character, Deloris Jordan. I wanted to do justice to her, as well as Michael, and honor who they are and the lasting impact they have on our culture.”

Overall, movie critics have responded well to “Air,” which currently has a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes. New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski said the film is “far and away the most likable film released so far this year.”

However, “Air” did fall flat for others, such as The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey who questioned why it even exists.

The film, an Amazon Studios production, is not yet available for streaming on Amazon Prime or any other streaming platforms. However, several Portland-area theaters are screening it, including Living Room Theaters, Regal Pioneer Place and Studio One Theaters.

Oregon moviegoers shouldn’t expect to see any familiar locations in the film. Despite “Air” being set in Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, much of it was filmed in the Los Angeles area.