Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries
Photo via New Line Cinema

Where can I watch ‘The Basketball Diaries?’

'The Basketball Diaries' showed what a young Leonardo DiCaprio was capable of, but it's surprisingly hard to track down a copy. Here's where you can watch it.

You’ve probably seen plenty of Leonardo DiCaprio over the past two decades, but before he became the global superstar he is today, he was a part of the beloved 1995 adaptation of The Basketball Diaries. Based on American author, poet, and musician Jim Carroll’s autobiography of the same name, the film launched to critical and fan praise. It tackles the issue of addiction as high school basketball prospect Carroll struggles with his life and quickly loses his chance at stardom for a life on the streets.

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If you’re a big DiCaprio fan and haven’t yet seen this film, then you’ll probably want to check it out, as it was a telling sign that the young actor had a bright future ahead of him. Thanks to streaming, home viewings are often the way to go these days. Unfortunately, with this film in particular, you’ll stumble upon a few hurdles if you try to watch it online.

Can I watch The Basketball Diaries anywhere?

Right now, there is no major streaming service in the U.S. where you can catch The Basketball Diaries. It is likewise not available via digital outlets to purchase or rent. With this being the case, you’ll likely need to find a physical copy of the movie to watch it, as it doesn’t seem to be available digitally in other regions, either.

Even if the film is not available there now, another library might be able to loan it to you. You can also purchase a hard copy of the flick via Amazon, where it’s currently listed for right around $11.

All that said, the Internet Archive does have the full movie available to stream for free. This site is considered reputable and carries content in which the rights situation is unclear, though it may yet be taken down at any time.

Why isn’t The Basketball Diaries officially streaming?

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries
Photo via New Line Cinema

The Basketball Diaries‘ controversial nature and the rights surrounding the film are why it is not available on streaming platforms. Let’s just say during the recent pandemic, when just about everyone watched whatever they could to pass the time stuck indoors, this movie was virtually nowhere to be found at that time.

Controversy is a considerable reason why this film has been hard to locate over the years. A multi-million dollar lawsuit in 1999 claimed that the graphic school shooting scene in the movie was one of the factors that led to the tragic Columbine High School shooting. The graphic subject matter indeed might be tough for some audiences to watch, even decades later. The case was eventually dropped in 2001.

But given all of the controversy surrounding it, it makes sense that no streaming platform is jumping to have the rights for it. Another reason is due to one of the oldest hurdles when it comes to Hollywood movies: film rights. As of 2020, the movie was said to have been owned by MGM, but that’s not confirmed.


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