Race (2016 film)

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Race 2016 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Produced by
  • Karsten Brünig
  • Luc Dayan
  • Kate Garwood
  • Stephen Hopkins
  • Jean-Charles Levy
  • Nicolas Manuel
  • Louis-Philippe Rochon
  • Dominique Séguin
Written by
  • Joe Shrapnel
  • Anna Waterhouse
Music by Rachel Portman
Cinematography Peter Levy
Edited by John Smith
  • Forecast Pictures[1][2][3]
  • Solofilms
  • Trinica
  • Trinity Race[4]
Distributed by Focus Features
Release date
  • February 11, 2016 (2016-02-11) (Toronto)
  • February 19, 2016 (2016-02-19) (United States and Canada)
  • May 5, 2016 (2016-05-05) (Germany)
  • July 27, 2016 (2016-07-27) (France)
Running time
134 minutes[5]
Language English
Budget $5 million[7][8]
Box office $25.1 million[9]

Race is a 2016 biographical sports drama film about African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.[10] Directed by Stephen Hopkins and written by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, the film stars Stephan James as Owens, and co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and Carice van Houten. It is a co-production of Canada, Germany and France.

Principal photography began on July 24, 2014, in Montreal, Canada. Forecast Pictures, Solofilms, and Trinity Race produced the film, supported by the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group.[10] It won four Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Actor for James.


Jesse Owens, a promising black American runner, attends Ohio State University, despite facing racial discrimination and slurs from the white athletes. He attracts the attention of coach Larry Snyder, who believes Owens has enormous potential but needs work on his form and technique. When Snyder suggests he is good enough to compete at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Owens is interested, but hesitant because of racial propaganda in Nazi Germany. The U.S. Olympic Committee is already considering boycotting the Olympics over Germany's discriminatory policies, only agreeing to participate when Nazi official Joseph Goebbels gives personal assurances they will allow foreign athletes of any race to compete, as well as promising to rein in their propaganda.

As Owens struggles to support his girlfriend Ruth and young daughter, he takes a job at a service station, upsetting Snyder when his job conflicts with his commitment to train. When Snyder learns Owens has a family to support, he gets him a no-show job, allowing him to focus on running. Owens goes on to break several records, including some of Snyder's, and begins a relationship with a woman whose attentions he attracts with his newfound fame. When Ruth threatens him with a lawsuit, Owens becomes distracted and loses a race to runner Eulace Peacock. Owens decides to return to Ruth to reconcile, convincing her to marry him. As the Olympics draw closer, the NAACP asks him not to go to Berlin for political reasons. Owens is conflicted, but Peacock urges him to compete to defy Nazi racial ideology.

In Berlin, Owens wins his first gold medal in the 100 m dash, but when he is brought by International Olympic Committee member Avery Brundage to receive congratulations from Adolf Hitler, he is told the Chancellor has left the stadium early to avoid traffic. Brundage warns Goebbels that Hitler must congratulate all winners or no winners, with Goebbels replying Hitler will not appear with "that". Owens next qualifies for the broad jump after German rival Luz Long unexpectedly gives him tips on his technique. Owens wins another medal, and Luz publicly shakes his hand and joins him for a victory lap, privately expressing concern about national politics. Owens wins his fourth and final medal in the 4 x 100 m relay, filling in for two Jewish American athletes cut by Brundage, who is convinced by Goebbels to do so to avoid a scandal over a business arrangement Brundage entered with the Nazis before the games. Director Leni Riefenstahl films the event against Goebbels' orders, then asks Owens to repeat his medal-winning broad jump to get a few more shots for her next film, Olympia.




Jesse Owens on the track at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

John Boyega was initially set to star as Owens; however, he eventually dropped out to star in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[11][12] and was subsequently replaced by Stephan James.[13] German and Canadian distribution was handled by Squareone Entertainment and Entertainment One[14] with Focus Features handling the distribution in the United States.[15]


Principal photography started on July 24, 2014, in Montreal, and on location at Olympic Stadium in Berlin.[16]


On October 1, 2014, Focus Features originally set a release date for April 8, 2016.[17] However, in August 2015, the release date was pushed up to February 19, 2016.[18]

On February 15, an advanced screening was shown at Mershon Auditorium at Ohio State University, Owens' alma mater. Jesse Owens' two daughters and Stephan James were in attendance and addressed the crowd. The President of Ohio State, Michael V. Drake, also addressed the crowd and spoke briefly about Owens' global impact and life at Ohio State.[19] It was released by Entertainment One in Canada, Focus Features in the United States on February 19, 2016, Eagle Pictures in Italy on March 31, 2016, and SquareOne Entertainment in Germany on May 5, 2016.


Box office[edit]

Race grossed $19.2 million in North America and $5.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $25.1 million.[9]

In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking suggested the film would gross $4–7 million from 2,369 theaters in its opening weekend, trailing fellow newcomer Risen ($7–12 million projection) but similar to The Witch ($5–7 million projection).[20] It ended up grossing $7.4 million in its opening weekend, finishing in sixth at the box office.[21]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 61% based on 138 reviews and an average rating of 6.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Race is nowhere near as thrillingly fleet or agile as its subject, but the story—and a winning central performance from Stephan James—are enough to carry it over the finish line".[22] Metacritic reports a score of 56 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[23] On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[24][21]


Race received eight nominations, including Best Motion Picture, at the 5th Canadian Screen Awards.[25]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Canadian Screen Awards 12 March 2017 Best Motion Picture Louis-Philippe Rochon, Dominique Séguin, Jean-Charles Lévy and Luc Dayan Nominated [26][27]
Best Actor Stephan James Won
Best Art Direction / Production Design David Brisbin, Isabelle Guay and Jean-Pierre Paquet Nominated
Best Overall Sound Claude La Haye, Luc Boudrias and Pierre-Jules Audet Won
Best Sound Editing Pierre-Jules Audet, Jérôme Décarie, Michelle Cloutier, Stan Sakell, Jean-François Sauvé, Mathieu Beaudin, François Senneville, Luc Raymond and Jean-Philippe Saint-Laurent Won
Best Costume Design Mario Davignon Nominated
Best Make-Up Natalie Trépanier and Réjean Goderre Nominated
Best Visual Effects Martin Lipmann, Cynthia Mourou, Benoît Touchette, Jonathan Piché-Delorme and Frédéric Breault Won
Image Awards 11 February 2017 Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Stephan James Nominated [28]
Prix Iris 4 June 2017 Best Art Direction David Brisbin, Isabelle Guay and Jean-Pierre Paquet Nominated [29]
Best Sound Pierre-Jules Audet, Luc Boudrias and Claude La Haye Nominated
Best Visual Effects Martin Lipmann, Cynthia Mourou and Benoît Touchette Nominated
Best Costumes Mario Davignon Nominated
Best Hairdressing Réjean Goderre Nominated


  1. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/race-film-review-861062
  2. ^ https://variety.com/2015/film/news/race-stephan-james-jesse-owens-1201617074/
  3. ^ https://variety.com/2014/film/news/william-hurt-jesse-owens-biopic-race-1201318601/
  4. ^ Andrew Barker (2016-02-18). "Film Review: 'Race'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-02-18. A Focus Features release and presentation in association with the Jesse Owens Foundation and the Luminary Group of a Solofilms/Trinica/Trinity Race production. 
  5. ^ "RACE (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. April 20, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c "Race (2016)". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Race (2016)". The Numbers. Fandango. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Race – PowerGrind". The Wrap. Retrieved July 16, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Race (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon. Retrieved July 4, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike (July 16, 2014). "Focus Features First To Start Line On Crowded Field Of Jesse Owens Biopics". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (January 24, 2014). "Jesse Owens Biopic Finds Its Leading Man". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ Zimmerman, Amy (April 30, 2014). "John Boyega, the Hero of 'Star Wars: Episode VII,' Has the Force". thedailybeast.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  13. ^ Sneider, Jeff (May 28, 2014). "'Star Wars' Hero John Boyega to Be Replaced by 'Selma' Actor in Jesse Owens Biopic". thewrap.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  14. ^ Barraclough, Leo (February 7, 2014). "Jesse Owens Biopic Gets Boost From Family". variety.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ Sneider, Jeff (May 7, 2014). "Focus Features in Negotiations to Board Jesse Owens Biopic 'Race'". thewrap.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ Kit, Borys (July 16, 2014). "Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons Join Jesse Owens Drama 'Race'". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Jesse Owens Biopic 'Race' Release Date Set For April 2016; William Hurt Joins Cast". Deadline Hollywood. October 1, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ Sneider, Jeff (August 27, 2015). "Focus Features Moves Up Jesse Owens Drama 'Race' to February 2016". thewrap.com. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Media Advisory: The Ohio State University to celebrate Jesse Owens' legacy with red-carpet preview screening of new movie "Race" | News Room - The Ohio State University". News.osu.edu. 2016-02-09. Retrieved 2016-10-09. 
  20. ^ "'Deadpool' Still Cool In Weekend 2 With Superhero Set To Pass $200M – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. 
  21. ^ a b "'Deadpool' Strong With Second Weekend Of $55M; 'Risen' Takes $11.8M, 'Witch' At $8.7M". Deadline Hollywood. 
  22. ^ "Race (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 4, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Race Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  24. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com – via Twitter. 
  25. ^ Peter Howell (2017-01-17). "Orphan Black and It's Only the End of the World lead Canadian Screen Awards nominations". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  26. ^ Furdyk, Brent (17 January 2017). "2017 Canadian Screen Awards nominees revealed". Global News. Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  27. ^ "Juste la fin du monde remporte six prix aux Écrans canadiens". La Presse. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  28. ^ Kinane, Ruth (13 December 2016). "NAACP Image Awards nominations announced". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  29. ^ Boutros, Magdaline (5 April 2017). "Gala Québec cinéma: Juste la fin du monde et Two Lovers and a Bear en tête". La Presse. Retrieved 1 May 2017. 

External links[edit]