Battle of the Sexes (film)

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Battle of the Sexes
The upper half of the poster shows a sepia toned image, of a man and a woman speaking at before a bank of microphones. Below a tennis ball.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by Simon Beaufoy
Music by Nicholas Britell
Cinematography Linus Sandgren
Edited by Pamela Martin
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • September 2, 2017 (2017-09-02) (Telluride)
  • September 22, 2017 (2017-09-22) (United States)
Running time
121 minutes[1][2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[3]
Box office $17.8 million[4]

Battle of the Sexes is a 2017 American biographical sports comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and written by Simon Beaufoy. The plot is loosely based on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The film stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell as King and Riggs, with Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Bill Pullman, and Sarah Silverman in supporting roles.

The film had its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Fox Searchlight Pictures on September 22, 2017.[5] It received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Stone and Carell, with some calling it the best performance of Stone's career.[6] Both Carell and Stone earned Golden Globe nominations for their work.[7]


The film dramatizes the events leading up to the 1973 match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Robert Larimore Riggs (Steve Carell), and their personal lives. King and Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) confront Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) who has announced a tennis tournament where the top prize for women is one-eighth of the men’s prize, despite equal ticket sales. King and Heldman threaten to start their own tour but Kramer won't alter the terms, citing the inferiority of women’s tennis. He later expels the women who join the new tour from the Lawn Tennis Association. The women's tour struggles until Heldman wins a lucrative sponsorship from Virginia Slims cigarettes. Billie Jean begins an affair with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), her hairdresser, threatening her marriage to Larry King (Austin Stowell).

Meanwhile, Riggs’ marriage to the wealthy Priscilla Wheelan (Elisabeth Shue) is in trouble because of his addiction to gambling. Thrown out of his house when he can’t conceal a Rolls Royce he won in a tennis bet, he hits upon the idea of a challenge match against the top woman player, boasting that even at age 55 he can beat any woman. King declines, but Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee), who recently beat King in a match, accepts. Riggs easily defeats Court and King decides she has to accept his challenge, but demands a final say as to the arrangements. King trains intensely, while Riggs relaxes. King objects to Kramer as a game announcer, threatening to not play unless he withdraws, which he does. After a slow start, King wins the match.



The project and its two leads were announced in April 2015.[8] Brie Larson was, for a brief period, set to replace Stone, due to scheduling conflicts, however, these were cleared up.[9][10] On March 3, 2016, Andrea Riseborough was cast to play Marilyn Barnett, King’s hairdresser and lover.[11] Later that month, three more were cast in the film, Elisabeth Shue as Riggs' wife;[12] Austin Stowell as Larry King, Billie Jean's husband;[13] and Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman, the founder of World Tennis magazine.[14] Four actors joined the cast in April: Eric Christian Olsen as Lornie Kuhle,[15] Jessica McNamee as tennis player Margaret Court,[16] Alan Cumming as designer Ted Tinling,[17] and Natalie Morales as player Rosie Casals.[18]

Principal photography on the film began in Los Angeles on April 13, 2016, with a budget of more than $25 million.[19][20]

For the tennis match scenes, tennis players Kaitlyn Christian and Vince Spadea were the body doubles of Stone and Carell, respectively.[21][22]


Battle of the Sexes had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017.[23] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017,[24] and at the BFI London Film Festival on October 7, 2017.[25] The film began a limited release in the United States on September 22, 2017, before going wide the following week.[26]

Box office[edit]

As of December 19, 2017, Battle of the Sexes has grossed $12.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $5.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $17.8 million.[4]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $515,450 from 21 theaters, an average of $24,545 per theater.[27] The film expanded the following Friday, where it was released alongside the openings of Flatliners, 'Til Death Do Us Part and American Made, and was projected to gross around $6 million from 1,213 theaters over the weekend.[28] It ended up making $3.4 million over the weekend, finishing 6th at the box office. noted the film's weekend gross was disappointing given its cast and positive reviews.[27] The following week the film was added to another 609 theaters and made $2.4 million, dropping just 30%.[29]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 245 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Battle of the Sexes turns real-life events into a crowd-pleasing, well-acted dramedy that ably entertains while smartly serving up a volley of present-day parallels."[30] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[31] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[32]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards February 5, 2018 Best Actor Steve Carell Pending [33]
Best Time Capsule Battle of the Sexes Pending
Casting Society of America January 18, 2018 Studio or Independent – Comedy Justine Arteta and Kim Davis-Wagner Nominated [34]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Actor in a Comedy Steve Carell Nominated [35]
Best Actress in a Comedy Emma Stone Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards April 12, 2018 Outstanding Film – Wide Release Battle of the Sexes Pending [36]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Steve Carell Nominated [37]
Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Emma Stone Nominated
Satellite Awards February 10, 2018 Best Actress – Motion Picture Emma Stone Pending [38]
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 21, 2018 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Steve Carell Pending [39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Battle of the Sexes". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved July 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ "BATTLE OF THE SEXES". British Board of Film Classification.  Retrieved September 6, 2017
  3. ^ "Production of Fox Searchlight's Battle of the Sexes Contributed Over $25 Million to the California Economy". MPAA. September 21, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Battle of the Sexes (2017)". The Numbers. Retrieved December 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2017-08-15). "London Film Festival To Serve 'Battle Of The Sexes' In Gala European Premiere". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-09-25. 
  6. ^ Giles, Jeff (September 28, 2017). "American Made is Certified Fresh". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  7. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Retrieved December 11, 2017. 
  8. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (April 20, 2015). "Game, Set Match? Searchlight Serves Up 'Battle Of The Sexes;' Dayton & Faris Direct Emma Stone As Billie Jean King, Steve Carell As Bobby Riggs". Retrieved September 20, 2015. 
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 18, 2015). "Brie Larson in Talks to Play Billie Jean King in 'Battle of the Sexes' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved September 20, 2015. 
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 18, 2015). "Emma Stone Set to Star as Billie Jean King in Fox Searchlight's 'Battle of the Sexes' (EXCLUSIVE)". Archived from the original on March 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2015. 
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 3, 2016). "'Battle of the Sexes' Adds Andrea Riseborough (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2016. 
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 21, 2016). "Elisabeth Shue Joins Emma Stone in Fox Searchlight's 'Battle of the Sexes' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2016. 
  13. ^ A. Lincoln, Ross (March 22, 2016). "Austin Stowell Joins Billie Jean King Biopic 'Battle Of The Sexes' In Key Role". Deadline. Retrieved March 26, 2016. 
  14. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 23, 2016). "Sarah Silverman A Match For 'Battle Of The Sexes'". Deadline. Retrieved March 25, 2016. 
  15. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (April 1, 2016). "Eric Christian Olsen Swings For 'Battle Of The Sexes'; Talitha Bateman Joins 'Vengeance: A Love Story'". Deadline. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  16. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (April 7, 2016). "Jessica McNamee Plays Margaret Court In 'Battle Of The Sexes'". Deadline. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  17. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (April 12, 2016). "Alan Cumming to Co-Star in Fox Searchlight's 'Battle of the Sexes'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  18. ^ Pedersen, Erik (April 13, 2016). "Natalie Morales Game For 'Battle Of The Sexes'; Jimmy Smagula Books 'Rebel In The Rye'". Deadline. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  19. ^ Evry, Max (April 13, 2016). "First Battle of the Sexes Photo as Filming Begins". Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  21. ^ Pantic, Nina (26 September 2017). "How Battle of the Sexes Made the Tennis Look Real". Baseline. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  22. ^ Barnes, Katie (19 September 2017). "How Emma Stone picked up Billie Jean King's game for 'Battle of the Sexes'". ESPN. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  23. ^ Hammond, Pete (August 31, 2017). "'Darkest Hour', 'Battle Of The Sexes', 'Lady Bird' Among World Premieres In 2017 Lineup – Telluride Film Festival". Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Toronto Film Festival 2017 Unveils Strong Slate". Deadline. Retrieved July 25, 2017. 
  25. ^ Stewart Clarke. (August 15, 2017). "London Film Festival Serves Up 'Battle of the Sexes' Gala Screening". Variety. Retrieved 2017-08-25. 
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 21, 2017). "'Battle Of The Sexes': Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs Tennis Pic Sets Fall Date". Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  27. ^ a b D'Allesandro, Anthony. "'It' Breaks Three-Way Tie Battle, 'Kingsman' & 'American Made' Fight For Second". Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  28. ^ Ryan Faughnder (September 27, 2017). "'It' drives record September box office with Tom Cruise's 'American Made' ready to battle 'Kingsman'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 27, 2017. 
  29. ^ "'Blade Runner 2049' Dulls -11% On Saturday; Weekend Opening Now At $31M+: Sunday Postmortem". Retrieved October 8, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Battle of the Sexes (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 10, 2017. 
  31. ^ "Battle of the Sexes reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  32. ^ Brooks, Brian (September 24, 2017). "Victoria And Abdul' Reigns With Top PTA; 'Stronger' & 'Battle Of The Sexes' Solid – Specialty Box Office". Retrieved September 24, 2017. 
  33. ^ Lee, Ashley (January 17, 2018). "AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards: 'The Post' Leads Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 17, 2018. 
  34. ^ Ford, Rebecca (January 2, 2018). "Artios Awards: Casting Society Reveals Film Nominees (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 3, 2018. 
  35. ^ Hammond, Pete (December 6, 2017). "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'The Shape Of Water' Leads With 14; Netflix Tops TV Contenders". Retrieved December 9, 2017. 
  36. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 19, 2018). "GLAAD Media Awards: The Complete List of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 19, 2018. 
  37. ^ The Hollywood Reporter Editors (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globes: 'Shape of Water,' 'Big Little Lies' Top Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 11, 2017. 
  38. ^ Pond, Steve (November 28, 2017). "'Dunkirk,' 'The Shape of Water' Lead Satellite Award Nominations". TheWrap. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  39. ^ "SAG Award Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017. 

External links[edit]