There are few attractions more dramatic and cinematic than a sporting event. The stories that are played out in professional sports rival the stories that are scribed by Hollywood’s most talented writers. The underdog tale is one that has had success time and time again at the box office, but it also has a place within the pages of sports history books. It’s no wonder that the stories of so many notable teams have made their way to the silver screen. Often times sports movies are purely fictional but based on popular professional teams. Other times they are a re-telling of famous sports stories. This list will comprise 10 movies that are based, fiction or non-fiction, on professional sports team.
Now, this was a tough task. I may have excluded your personal favourite sports movie or I may have included a movie that you don’t believe to be relevant. I look forward to reading your comments and discussing my notable omissions and additions. Let’s be clear, this is a list about movies based on professional sports teams and are ranked by how much they grossed at the worldwide box office according to boxoffice.com. We also will not look at sequels, to avoid being monotonous.
10. Toronto Maple leafs – The Love Guru (2008) – $40.86 Million at the Box Office
Oh Mike Myers, you should stick to only making Austin Powers movies at this point in your career. The former SNL talent wrote and produced this horror of a film based around a man (played by Mike Myers) who is like an Indian Oprah, helping people get through their personal problems. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. Mike Myers’s character, Guru Pitka, is hired to help a fictional struggling superstar from the Toronto Maple Leafs get his career back on track. As embarrassing as the Maple Leafs typically are, this was their biggest shame of the decade. The Love Guru also featured Justin Timberlake as the villain, which made absolutely no sense. This movie was crushed by critics, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 14% and a Metacritic rating of 24 on 100. It also did poorly at the box office, generating around $41 million, quite far from its budget of $62 million. Sadly, Mike Myers has not featured as a lead actor since, apart from the most recent Shrek.
9. Atlanta Braves -Trouble with the Curve (2012) – $46 Million at the Box Office
This one seemed like it couldn’t miss. With a talented cast consisting of Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake (man, this guy is everywhere), this story is about an ageing Atlanta Braves scout who is being run out of his position. It marked Clint Eastwood’s first acting appearance since the awesome Gran Torino, making hopes high for this film. It received mediocre reviews, with a Metacritic score of 59 on 100 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 51%. Of course, these are average scores and not indicative of what might take place at the box office. Unfortunately, not many movie goers gave this one a chance and it only brought in about $46 million. The movie had a budget of $60 million, making it another loss for a sports movie featuring Justin Timberlake.
8. Boston Red Sox – Fever Pitch (2005) – $50 Million at the Box Office
As compared to the last baseball movie on this list, this one was obviously going to miss. The movie is centered on a guy named Ben, played by Jimmy Fallon, who is struggling to balance his love for the Red Sox and his girlfriend, played by Drew Barrymore. The movie was directed by the Farrelly brothers, who also did Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, so there was some hope. Critically, it was averagely received, with a Metacritic score of 56 on 100 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 64%. Baseball fans did not care as much, as it grossed around $50 million, shy of its budget of $62 million. Jimmy Fallon has not been the star of many more movies and has found his niche on the late night talk show scene.
7. Cleveland Indians – Major League (1989) – $50 Million at the Box Office
This movie came out in 1989 and featured Charlie Sheen before any of the insanity that the newer generations knows him for. The movie has a clever storyline in which a rich girl inherits the Cleveland Indians franchise and wants to move them to a warmer climate. The catch is that she needs them to tank before she’ll be able to move the team. When they figure out her plan, the rag-tag team she put together strives to win just to spite her. This movie had a good reception from critics with an 85% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It also did very well financially, as it had a budget of $11 million, and made nearly five times that amount when all was said and done. It also spawned two horrible sequels, Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors, which flopped terribly.
6. Los Angeles Angels – Angels in the Outfield (1994) -$50.2 Million at the Box Office
This movie was based on the California Angels, who became the Anaheim Angels and who are now the Los Angeles Angels. It came out in 1994 and featured stars like Danny Glover, Tony Danza and Christopher Lloyd, as well as future stars like Matthew McConaughey, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Adrien Brody. The movie is based around the dreams of a young foster children who wishes to have a family if the Angels win the pennant. He then notices Angels helping the team the next time he watches a game at the stadium. The movie was released to mild reviews, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 35%. However, this Disney movie was eaten up at the box office and grossed about $50 million, doubling its budget of only $24 million. This movie spawned two direct-to-video sequels entitled Angels in the Infield and Angels in the Endzone, both of which failed.
5. Anaheim Ducks – The Mighty Ducks (1992) – $50.75 Million at the Box Office
This movie is a bit tricky as the team did not yet exist when the movie came out in 1992. Based on the financial success of this film, a team was created in Anaheim in 1993 and named after the popular movies. Recently, they renamed the team to simply the Ducks, to try and move away from that image. The movie was about a selfish lawyer whose community service forces him to coach a failing hockey team. Naturally, they formed a flying V and won everything. The Mighty Ducks received horrible reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 12%. However, Disney movies based on sports always kill at the box office and it made five times its budget of $10 million dollars. This movie also spawned two sequels, D2 and D3, which did decently at the box office, even though they were shredded by critics.
4. Chicago Cubs – Rookie of the year (1993) – $53.5 Million at the Box Office
This is another movie that features an actor who is now known for being a nutcase. Rookie of the Year stars Gary Busey and is about a kid who is miraculously given a powerful throwing arm and ends up pitching for the Chicago Cubs. The kid is forced to balance school, his friends and pitching for a professional team. As ridiculous as this premise may seem, critics were mixed about the movie, as it received a 39% score on Rotten Tomatoes. At the box office, it grossed about $54 million in 1993 which was fantastic for a movie in the 90s; Trouble with the Curve only grossed $46 million in 2012.
3. Philadelphia Eagles – Invincible (2006) – $58.5 Million at the Box Office
This is the first movie on the list to be based on an actual story. Mark Wahlberg plays Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender who tries out for the Eagles and makes the team in 1976. This actually happened and Papale played three years with Eagles at wide receiver before a shoulder injury ended his career. He recorded one catch in his career and spent most of his time on special teams. The movie was critically well-received with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 71% and a Metacritic score of 63/100. The film performed decently at the box office, making about $58 million with a budget of $40 million.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – 42 (2013) $95 Million
42 is based around a true story involving Jackie Robinson’s beginnings with the Brooklyn Dodgers, who are now the Los Angeles Dodgers. The movie, starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, is a biography of the legendary baseballer and how historical it was when he began to play for the Dodgers. There were a few inaccuracies in the movie, but it mostly followed Robinson’s story to the core. It focuses mainly on his time with the Montreal Royals and Brooklyn Dodgers and was well-received for the most part. It received a 79% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 62/100 from Metacritic. At the box office, it made around $95 million which was substantially more than the $73 million dollar that the movie had cost to make.
1. Oakland A’s – Moneyball (2011) $111.2 Million
This movie was also based on a true story, and on the surface it did not seem like the type of tale that would be made into a feature film. Moneyball is centered on Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, and how he made the 2002 Oakland Athletics competitive even though they did not have the money to keep up with powers like the Yankees or Red Sox. He used computer-generated analysis to form his team, and the 2002 the A’s actually made the playoffs. This is largely accurate and the film does not have many discrepancies from the actual story. The movie was incredibly well-received, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94% and a Metacritic score of 87/100. It was also nominated for six academy awards, including best picture and best actor. It also did very well at the box office, grossing around $111 million, with a budget of $85 million.
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