Battle of the Sexes (film)
|Battle of the Sexes|
Theatrical release poster
|Written by||Simon Beaufoy|
|Music by||Nicholas Britell|
|Edited by||Pamela Martin|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$17.8 million|
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. 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. Both Carell and Stone earned Golden Globe nominations for their work.
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.
- Emma Stone as Billie Jean King
- Steve Carell as Robert Larimore Riggs, Larry Riggs’ father and Priscilla’s husband
- Andrea Riseborough as Marilyn Barnett, Billie Jean King's hairdresser and lover.
- Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman, the founder of World Tennis magazine.
- Bill Pullman as Jack Kramer
- Alan Cumming as Ted Tinling, Billie Jean King's fashion designer and close friend.
- Elisabeth Shue as Priscilla Wheelan, Bobby Riggs’s wife and Larry’s mother.
- Austin Stowell as Larry King, Billie Jean King's husband.
- Natalie Morales as Rosie Casals, a tennis player.
- Eric Christian Olsen as Lornie Kuhle, a younger tennis pro and friend of Bobby Riggs, who becomes his advisor.
- Lewis Pullman as Larry Riggs, Bobby and Priscilla’s son.
- Jessica McNamee as Margaret Court
- Martha MacIsaac as Jane Bartkowicz
- Mickey Sumner as Valerie Ziegenfuss
- Lauren Klein as Nancy Richey
- Ashley Weinhold as Kristy Pigeon
- Fidan Manashirova as Judy Tegart-Dalton
- Kaitlyn Christian as Kerry Melville
- Bridley Elliott as Julie Heldman
- Wallace Langham as Henry
- Mark Harelik as Hank Greenberg
- Fred Armisen as Rheo Blair
- Chris Parnell as DJ
- John C. McGinley as Herb
- Tom Kenny as Bob Sanders
The project and its two leads were announced in April 2015. Brie Larson was, for a brief period, set to replace Stone, due to scheduling conflicts, however, these were cleared up. On March 3, 2016, Andrea Riseborough was cast to play Marilyn Barnett, King’s hairdresser and lover. Later that month, three more were cast in the film, Elisabeth Shue as Riggs' wife; Austin Stowell as Larry King, Billie Jean's husband; and Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman, the founder of World Tennis magazine. Four actors joined the cast in April: Eric Christian Olsen as Lornie Kuhle, Jessica McNamee as tennis player Margaret Court, Alan Cumming as designer Ted Tinling, and Natalie Morales as player Rosie Casals.
Battle of the Sexes had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017, and at the BFI London Film Festival on October 7, 2017. The film began a limited release in the United States on September 22, 2017, before going wide the following week.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $515,450 from 21 theaters, an average of $24,545 per theater. 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. It ended up making $3.4 million over the weekend, finishing 6th at the box office. Deadline.com noted the film's weekend gross was disappointing given its cast and positive reviews. The following week the film was added to another 609 theaters and made $2.4 million, dropping just 30%.
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." 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". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
|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|||
|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|||
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||January 11, 2018||Best Actor in a Comedy||Steve Carell||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Comedy||Emma Stone||Nominated|
|GLAAD Media Awards||April 12, 2018||Outstanding Film – Wide Release||Battle of the Sexes||Pending|||
|Golden Globe Awards||January 7, 2018||Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Steve Carell||Nominated|||
|Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Emma Stone||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||February 10, 2018||Best Actress – Motion Picture||Emma Stone||Pending|||
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||January 21, 2018||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role||Steve Carell||Pending|||
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