Southpaw (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byAntoine Fuqua
Written byKurt Sutter
Produced by
  • Todd Black
  • Jason Blumenthal
CinematographyMauro Fiore
Edited byJohn Refoua
Music byJames Horner
Distributed byThe Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • June 15, 2015 (2015-06-15) (SIFF)
  • July 24, 2015 (2015-07-24) (United States)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • China[2]
Budget$30 million[3]
Box office$95 million[4]

Southpaw is a 2015 American sports drama film directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by Kurt Sutter and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker and Rachel McAdams. The film follows a boxer who sets out to get his life back on track after losing his wife after a gunshot and later his young daughter to child protective services. The film was released on July 24, 2015, by The Weinstein Company. The film received mixed reviews from critics, while Gyllenhaal and Oona Laurence's performances received positive reviews. The film grossed $95 million worldwide against a production budget of $30 million.

The movie was set in New York City, but it was filmed in Pittsburgh and the nearby town of Indiana, Pennsylvania.[5][6]

The film marked one of the last films to be scored by James Horner and the first of three posthumous releases to feature his music (the other two being The 33 and The Magnificent Seven). The film and the film's soundtrack album are dedicated to his memory.


Billy "the Great" Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a professional boxer, and the reigning champion in the Light Heavyweight division with an Orthodox stance and a won-loss record of 42-0, living in New York City with his wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), and their only daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence). During his match against Darius Jones (Cedric D. Jones) at Madison Square Garden, Maureen is scared as Billy takes several horrific hits to the face, resulting in profuse bleeding out of his eye. Billy wins the match by knockout and retains the light heavyweight title, despite nasty injuries.

As the press surrounds Billy, a younger upstart boxer, Miguel "Magic" Escobar (Miguel Gomez), taunts Billy to fight him. Upon returning home, Maureen fears for Billy's safety and urges him to quit. Later at the Hope house, Maureen talks to Billy's manager, Jordan Mains (50 Cent), and disagrees with his plan to get Billy to sign a two-year deal for three more fights.

Billy and Maureen go to a fundraiser ball where Billy gives a speech, acknowledging Maureen, Leila, Jordan, and his friends. Miguel is in attendance as well, and as Billy is leaving, Miguel goads him by insulting Maureen and saying he will take his titles away from him, leading to a brawl. A gunshot (from Miguel's brother Hector) rings out and Billy sees that Maureen has been shot. Hector flees while Maureen dies in Billy's arms.

Shortly thereafter, Billy begins abusing alcohol and drugs. Billy meets with Jordan, who suggests selling the house to solve his financial problems. Jordan then books Billy a fight against Kalil Turay, in which Billy gets beaten up so badly that his corner throws in the towel. Blinded by damage due to headshots, Billy accidentally headbutts the referee in the face. Billy is suspended for a year, has no income, and owes the ref and the networks damages. His house and belongings are repossessed. Both Jordan and longtime trainer Eli Frost abandon him to work with Miguel.

Billy runs his car into the tree outside his home one night. Leila finds Billy bleeding on the floor and calls 911. Billy wakes up in the hospital to learn that Leila is being put in the care of Child Protective Services officer Angela Rivera (Naomie Harris). With nowhere left to go, Billy visits the Wills Gym, where he meets former boxer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker), who is blind in one eye after his last fight left him injured. Billy wants Tick to get him back on his feet, but Tick knows about his drug problems and declines to train him. He offers Billy a janitorial job.

Billy meets with Angela to see Leila. However, Leila blames him for their problems and refuses to see him. Billy returns to the gym and accepts the janitorial job. While working there, he befriends a boy named Hoppy (Skylan Brooks), who is also an aspiring boxer. He learns that Hoppy's father abuses his mother, which he reports to Tick. As he starts to make amends in his life, Billy continues visiting Leila, and his persistence wins her over. After winning a charity match, Billy is visited by Jordan. He now manages Miguel, who recently won the championship from Kalil Turay. Jordan wants to book a fight between the two within six weeks, knowing that Billy will not have enough time to train. Billy thinks he can make a comeback and wants Tick to train him, but Tick refuses, believing Billy just wants revenge.

Billy later learns from Tick that Hoppy has died after trying to defend his mother from his father, who shot him. Lamenting that he could not save Hoppy, Tick decides to help Billy train for the upcoming fight. Noting his efforts to turn his life around, the judge grants Billy custody of Leila, and she moves back in with him. Visiting Maureen's grave together, Billy tells Leila he is going to fight again and grants her wish of letting her remain present.

On the night of the fight, Angela brings Leila into the dressing room where they watch it on TV. Miguel takes the early upper hand. Both fighters trade furious punches, round after round. Miguel then insults Maureen, causing Billy to lose concentration. In a fit of rage, Billy lashes out and almost stops the fight. Tick cautions Billy not to let Miguel control him. Billy controls his anger and in the final round, gains the upper hand against Miguel. In the final seconds, Billy blocks a jab from Miguel and lands a shot to the face before turning southpaw and with a furious uppercut, sends Miguel to the canvas. Miguel gets up at the last second and both corners are filled with two teams' staffs.

Despite a split decision (final score 344-341, with Billy having 3 points over Miguel) giving the first rounds to Miguel, Billy is announced as the new champion. Billy then collapses in the corner, thanking Maureen and committing himself to Leila. Tick and the team lift him up on their shoulders as he closes his eyes tearfully and smiles. After the fight, Leila meets Billy in the dressing room, where they hug for the first time since Maureen's death. Billy says Maureen would be proud of her, and she tells him she loves him.



Eminem was originally supposed to play the role of Billy Hope. The film's screenwriter Kurt Sutter said the project was inspired by the rapper's personal struggles. He stated that he had taken meetings with Eminem's producing partners over the past seven years, looking for something to do together. "I know he's very selective and doesn't do a lot. But he shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels. He is very interested in the boxing genre, and it seemed like an apt metaphor, because his own life has been a brawl. In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life. He'll play a world champion boxer who really hits a hard bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter. At its core, this is a retelling of his struggles over the last five years of his life, using the boxing analogy. I love that the title refers to Marshall being a lefty, which is to boxing what a white rapper is to hip hop; dangerous, unwanted, and completely unorthodox. It's a much harder road for a southpaw than a right-handed boxer."[13] Producers Alan and Peter Riche have given a slightly different story about Eminem's involvement however stating that they set out to make a boxing movie similar to The Champ but wanted to make the story about a father-daughter relationship as opposed to The Champ's father-son story.[14] Recalling Eminem's strong relationship with his daughter, they asked him and he was immediately receptive.[14]

On December 13, 2010, DreamWorks acquired the script, with Eminem eyed to play the lead role,[13] however the following August the studio dropped the project.[15] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picked up the film that October.[16] in December 2012, Eminem dropped out of the film to focus instead on his music.[17] Antoine Fuqua signed on to the project in March 2014 with Jake Gyllenhaal replacing Eminem.[7] Other casting news was announced in May 2014 with Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong'o, and Rachel McAdams officially joining the cast.[8] In August of that year, it was announced that Naomie Harris would be replacing Nyong'o.[18] Tyrese Gibson was cast but his scenes were cut from the film.[19]

Gyllenhaal did research for his role by doing "tons of reading on boxers, orphan boxers, the spirit of gyms all over America, children who start early, [and] the history of foster care in America"[20] while also spending five months training as a boxer.[20] Eminem would later praise Gyllenhaal's performance, noting that "Jake smashed it" in an interview with Zane Lowe.[14]

Southpaw marks the first investment in an American film by Wanda Pictures, a division of Wang Jianlin's Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group.[2] Principal photography began on June 16, 2014.[21]

It was originally to be set in Detroit, yet Pittsburgh was chosen for the filming and was used as a double for New York.[5][6]


The film had its world premiere at the 2015 Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2015, where it was in competition,[22] and was released on July 24, 2015, by The Weinstein Company.[23]


Box office[edit]

Southpaw grossed $52.4 million in North America and $38.5 million in other territories for a total gross of $92 million, against a budget of $30 million.[24]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $16.7 million from 2,772 theaters, finishing 5th at the box office.[25]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 60%, based on 242 reviews, with a weighted average of 6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an impressively committed performance, but Southpaw beats it down with a dispiriting drama that pummels viewers with genre clichés."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[27] On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[28]

Soren Anderson of The Seattle Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Southpaw, a boxing movie with a theme of redemption, is redeemed by the performances of its two main actors, Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker."[29] Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "This is a genre with especially sturdy bones, and when Southpaw connects, which is more often than you might expect, you feel it down to your toes."[30] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Southpaw may be rote, predictable and mawkish, but none of those faults lie in its star. Even when he looks like an unholy mess, he transcends the movie he's in."[31] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three out of four stars, saying "What keeps this cornball business from getting out of hand is the commitment of Gyllenhaal, whose performance is fierce and muscular, in and out of the ring."[32] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The script may have hamburger for brains, but Fuqua slams it home with the help of actors who give their all – even when giving a little less might have made things more interesting."[33]

Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "This isn't great cinema, but it's satisfying movie-making, with nothing more on its mind than telling a heart-tugging story."[34] A. O. Scott of The New York Times said, "I wish I could say Southpaw was a knockout, or even a contender, that it went the distance or scored on points. But it's strictly an undercard bout, displaying enough heart and skill to keep the paying customers from getting too restless."[35] Benjamin Nugent of The New York Times has compared the film to Robert De Niro stating, "Pity Jake Gyllenhaal, who despite getting shredded for Southpaw, could not outbox the shadow of Robert De Niro's Raging Bull performance."[36] Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C+, saying "Just as director Antoine Fuqua starts to close in on something interesting and unexpected, he retreats to the safety of his corner and gives us what we've seen too many times before: a predictable flurry of melodramatic jabs."[37] Barbara VanDenburgh of The Arizona Republic gave the film three out of five stars, saying "Southpaw is all about the fist. There's no delicate footwork here, no lingering grace notes. It's a film played entirely in power chords."[38] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Southpaw isn't content with presenting a gallery of clichéd characters. It takes the time to put flesh on the bones."[39] Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film one out of four stars, slamming Gyllenhaal's performance, saying "As a troubled slugger, Gyllenhaal is impressively muscle-bound, but gives no knockout performance. His work drags on like 12 rounds of fistfight fatigue."[40]


Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
Black Reel Awards Best Director Antoine Fuqua Nominated [41]
Best Supporting Actor Forest Whitaker Nominated
Jupiter Award Best International Actor Jake Gyllenhaal Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Forest Whitaker Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Youth Performance Oona Laurence Nominated


Eminem executive-produced the soundtrack, which was released by Shady Records on July 24, 2015. He had previously released his single called "Phenomenal" from the soundtrack on June 2, 2015.[42]

An album of James Horner's score was released through Sony Classical on July 24, 2015.[43] This was Horner's final score (it was recorded after The 33, although Southpaw was released first); he was killed in a plane crash on June 22, 2015.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SOUTHPAW (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 19, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Sakoui, Anousha (July 24, 2015). "China's Richest Man Marks Push Into Hollywood With Jake Gyllenhaal Movie". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  3. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (July 26, 2015). "'Ant-Man' Has Bragging Rights At The B.O. Over Adam Sandler's 'Pixels' – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  4. ^ "Southpaw (2015) - Financial Information".
  5. ^ a b "'Southpaw' movie now filming in Downtown Pittsburgh". wtae. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Pittsburgh native Antoine Fuqua returns to direct 'Southpaw'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2014-08-17. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b Busch, Anita (2014-03-06). "Antoine Fuqua To Direct 'Southpaw' Movie Starring Jake Gyllenhaal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  8. ^ a b c Fleming, Mike (2014-05-14). "Kurt Sutter's 'Southpaw' Movie Eyes Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams & Lupita Nyong'o". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  9. ^ "MATILDA's Oona Laurence to Star in Boxing Drama SOUTHPAW – BWWMoviesWorld". Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  10. ^ "Kaitlyn Dever Joins 'The Greens Are Gone'; Miguel Gomez Cast In 'Southpaw'; Richard Cabral Books 'Blood Father'". Deadline Hollywood. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike (2014-06-17). "'Southpaw' Adds Ex-Champ Victor Ortiz To Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  12. ^ "Beau Knapp Joins 'Southpaw'". Deadline Hollywood. August 7, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Fleming, Mike (2010-12-13). "DreamWorks Teams With Eminem And Kurt Sutter For 'Southpaw'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  14. ^ a b c Guerrasio, Jason. "New movie 'Southpaw' was created for Eminem — but here's why the role ended up going to Jake Gyllenhaal". Business Insider. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike (2011-08-11). "Eminem-Antoine Fuqua Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Dropped By DreamWorks But Still Seeking To Answer Bell". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  16. ^ Jeff Sneider (2011-10-20). "MGM closes Eminem pic 'Southpaw'". Variety. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  17. ^ "Eminem delays second movie, 'Southpaw' to focus on music". Rolling Stone. 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  18. ^ Yamato, Jen (1970-01-01). "Naomie Harris Joins Jake Gyllenhaal In 'Southpaw'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  19. ^ Hill, Jessica (30 March 2015). "Furious 7 star Tyrese Gibson on his second family in the UAE, dune bashing and a possible Furious 8". Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  20. ^ a b Jacobs, Matthew (22 July 2015). "With 'Southpaw,' Jake Gyllenhaal's Physical Transformations Become A One-Two Punch". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  21. ^ "On The Set For 6/16/14: Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Starts, 'American Ultra' Wraps". Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  22. ^ Kevin Ma (June 4, 2015). "Shanghai completes competition lineup". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on June 11, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. ^ "Southpaw Set for July 31st Release; Sacha Baron Cohen Comedy Pushed to 2016". Collider. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Southpaw (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  25. ^ Pamela McClintock (July 26, 2015). "Box Office: 'Pixels,' 'Paper Towns' Stall; 'Southpaw' Overperforms". The Hollywood Reporter. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  26. ^ "Southpaw". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved April 8, 2024.
  27. ^ "Southpaw". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (26 July 2015). "'Ant-Man' Has Bragging Rights At The B.O. Over Adam Sandler's 'Pixels' – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood.
  29. ^ Andersen, Soren (2015-07-23). "'Southpaw': Hokey boxing film has fine acting in its corner". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  30. ^ "In 'Southpaw,' it's the old one-two punch – Movies". The Boston Globe. 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  31. ^ Hornaday, Ann (2015-07-23). "Jake Gyllenhaal transforms in the boxing drama 'Southpaw'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  32. ^ Steven Rea, Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic. "'Southpaw': Boxing's life lessons". Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  33. ^ "'Southpaw' movie review: Jake Gyllenhaal fights through tragedy". Chicago Tribune. 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  34. ^ "Faces punched, hearts tugged: Southpaw review | Toronto Star". 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  35. ^ Scott, A. O. (2015-07-23). "Review: In 'Southpaw,' Jake Gyllenhaal Tries to Box His Way Back From Tragedy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  36. ^ Nugent, Benjamin The Ring Cycle: Boxing's Eternal Cinematic Appeal New York Times. September 3, 2015
  37. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (2015-07-22). "'Southpaw': EW review". Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  38. ^ "Review: 'Southpaw' packs too little punch". 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  39. ^ James Berardinelli (2015-07-25). "Southpaw | Reelviews Movie Reviews". Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  40. ^ "'Southpaw' gets KO'd quick, thanks to a miscast Jake Gyllenhaal". 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
  41. ^ "Black Reel Awards '16". Black Reel Awards. 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  42. ^ Rhian Daly (23 May 2015). "NME News Eminem to release new song on 'Southpaw' soundtrack - NME.COM". NME.COM.
  43. ^ "'Southpaw' Score Album Details – Film Music Reporter". Film Music Reporter. June 2, 2015.
  44. ^ "Pilot dies in plane registered to James Horner, Titanic composer". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Associated Press. June 22, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015.

External links[edit]