For the second time in the last month, a football film is the weekend’s top box-office attraction. The Gridiron Gang, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, led the way in weekend receipts with an estimated total of $15 million.
The Gridiron Gang is another in a long line of sports movies that show how troubled individuals develop character by participating in sports, where excellence is the pursuit and achieving real, visible results is the only way to succeed.
An important aspect of these films is the leadership brought by a coach who has battles of his or her own to fight. Mentorship and the responsibility of each generation to train the next one are central concerns of such films.
Movies such as Invincible, The Replacements, Friday Night Lights, The Longest Yard, and The Ice Princess all pursue this approach, and the underlying concern is the same: redemption. As such, they can be quite moving despite their often formulaic story lines.
(In fact, a great deal of their power is the direct result of their formulaic nature, about which we will write more in due course.)
The Brian DePalma crime story The Black Dahlia brought in a lackluster $10 mil in its opening week, and attendance overall for the weekend was weak, off 12 percent from the week before.
The E! Online story attributes this to school being back in session and the large number of football games available to watch on TV. The first seems unlikely, given that in most places school started at least a couple of weeks ago, and few people attend classes on weekends (although some do actually do homework over the weekends).
The likely reason for the box office dropoff is the attraction of football. Several football games were in the top twenty rated TV shows last week, with NFL games at the 1 and 3 positions.
I think that’s a good thing. If you’re like most people, you’ll get more enjoyment and learn more about life watching a football game than in watching most movies—and what you enjoy will be the pursuit of excellence and what you learn will be true.
If only more movies were like that.