Universal Pictures and Regal are giving away more than 14,000 free tickets to U.S. veterans and active-duty service members for “First Man” at more than 500 Regal locations nationwide.

The first 25 service members with valid, government-issued ID who request a ticket will be given free admission to the 7 p.m. preview screening (or first show) on Thursday. “First Man,” directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, arrives in theaters nationwide the following day.

“During his career as a Naval aviator, our dad flew 78 combat missions in the Korean War,” said Mark and Rick Armstrong. “The friendships he forged during those critical years remained deeply important to him all of his days. Freedom — much like landing on the moon — is an achievement that is hard fought and hard won, and it cannot be accomplished without the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their loved ones. We’d like to join Universal and Regal in thanking all our current and past veterans, as well as their families, for their brave service to this great nation.”

Ken Thewes, chief marketing office at Regal, said, “As an Air Force veteran, I am proud to see this historical achievement from other veterans and NASA featured on the big screen. These military heroes are an incredible example of the courage and determination that allowed us to reach new heights in space exploration. As a tribute to the courageous men and women in the armed forces, we are honored to offer complimentary tickets for active-duty military and veterans to be the first to see ‘First Man’ at any participating Regal theatres.”

In August, the film fielded a mild controversy, with some decrying “First Man” as unpatriotic due to the lack of the flag-planting scene. Armstrong’s sons and Chazelle previously issued a statement defending the absence of the scene.

“We do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest,” the trio said. “Quite the opposite. But don’t take our word for it. We’d encourage everyone to go see this remarkable film and see for themselves.”

“First Man” is directed by Chazelle from a script by Josh Singer, based on Hansen’s book “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong.”

Jim Orr, president of distribution for Universal, said, “Neil Armstrong represents the best and bravest of humanity, and this film from director Damien Chazelle is stunning. Early audiences have championed this new masterpiece, and we’re grateful that our partners at Regal have opened their doors to active-duty and retired service members with free tickets.”