Sports are entertaining in their own right. Millions of people tune in to watch their favourite teams or athletes compete against each other in a bid to become the best of the best. But it’s not just the action we see on TV, or if we’re lucky, from the stands, that gets us excited. Quite often it can be the background stories of what an athlete has come through, the tale of how an underdog triumphed against the odds, or the controversy that happens outside of the sports that people become enthralled with.
As such, there have been many movies over the years that are based on real sporting events and the magnificent tales behind them. Some tell the tales of individuals, others the story of how a team overcame sports betting odds to cause an upset. So, we thought we’d go through some of the most famous sports movies ever released, and tell you a little more about the stories behind them. And we’ll even touch up on one movie being worked upon right now. Let’s get to it!
Fighting With My Family (2019)
Many people, especially wrestling fans, will know this movie very well. It follows the story of the professional wrestler Paige, who is currently signed to the roster for the WWE. It tells the tale of her journey from growing up in a wrestling family in Norwich, England, all the way to making it to the global stage with the world’s biggest wrestling promotion company, the WWE.
But what you may not know is that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who also appears in the film, actually produced the film. And he did so after watching a documentary that aired on Channel 4 in the UK titled “The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family”. The Rock loved the story of Paige’s meteoric rise so much, he helped to bring her story to the big screen, getting Stephen Merchant on board to add a comical element to this biography.
The film does miss out some major events, like when she wrestled for NXT and became Diva champion. It also falsely portrayed her as being hated, as she actually did have a loyal following. But when asked in an Interview with Hollywood Today, Paige stated “95% percent of it was accurate”. With that 5% extra clearly being a little bit of embellishment of the truth to help the story flow, and create some hysterical moments in the film.
The Longest Yard (2005)
This may be the version most people remember, but The Longest Yard was originally released in 1974, starring none other than Burt Reynolds. The idea of the original film was pitched as an original story, in which a bunch of prisoners play American Football against the guards. It’s a great family comedy full of laugh out loud moments, and you don’t even need to be a sports fan to appreciate the humor.
There have been other iterations of this film too, with the UK film Mean Machine, starring Vinnie Jones in 2001, and Captain Masr which was set in Egypt in 2015. Both of these films swap the Longest Yard’s sport to actual football (soccer), and there is a good reason for that, because the story isn’t as original as you’d think. In fact, it is based on a special bit of history and follows the plot of an even earlier film titled Two Halves in Hell or The Last Goal, which was released in 1961.
This film again was based around football not American Football, and told the tale of when German soldiers played a game of football during World War II against some Soviet Ukrainian prisoners. It was labelled The Death Match, and whilst many people said they attended over the years and stories have recounted the famous historical game, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence of it taking place. Since back then, we didn’t have technology available like we do today to capture every moment on film.
The Jamie Vardy Story (Unreleased/Untitled)
So we said we’d bring you the tale of a movie that was unreleased, and this is still in the works right now, with no release date set as of yet. It tells the story of English professional footballer Jamie Vardy, and his meteoric rise from playing non-league football whilst working in a factory, to making the move to Leicester, where they would go on to beat the odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League.
It was an incredible tale anyway, one that shows if you work hard, dreams can come true. So it’s not surprising Hollywood talent picked it up, and decided it would be a tale fit for the big screen. A proper rags to riches tale from making medical splints, then moving from his semi-professional club Fleetwood Town to Leicester, climbing the ranks through the English football pyramid, before eventually making it to the top tier.
But it didn’t stop there, they beat the odds and some of the world’s best teams to claim a first-ever premier league title. With Vardy bagging a golden boot award along the way. Most recently he has also helped the team to lift their first-ever FA Cup, but it is unclear how far into his life the movie will go which has been quite the roller coaster ride. Again, there are few details confirmed just yet, but rumours suggest Zac Efron could play Vardy, and a whole host of other talent is also suspected to be involved.
These are just a couple of the real stories behind some of the top sports movies over the years, and there are many more out there. If you’ve got some favorites of your own, and interesting facts behind the making of the film based on the real stories that happened behind them, let us know in the comments or on our social channels. We’d love to learn more about the real stories behind more famous sports films.