8 Sports Stories That Made It To The Big Screen

Million Dollar Arm, hitting cinemas in the UK later this month, is the latest in a series of true stories from the world of sport that have translated to big-screen success.

Million Dollar Arm is the story of a sports agent who stages a recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball. The film is actually based on the true story of J.B. Bernstein, who took his unconventional methods to India to create the Million Dollar Arm contest.

Watch the trailer below, and in anticipation of the release, we've taken a look at other films that portray true stories in sport.

Rudy (1993)

Based on true events, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger grows up in a suburb of Chicago with dreams of playing college football at the University of Notre Dame. Even though Rudy is an excellent player on his high school football team, he fails to receive the grades to gain admission into the university.

He enrolls in a smaller community college nearby Notre Dame where he tries to raise his grades with the help of a teaching assistant and a Notre Dame groundskeeper. The film focuses on Rudy’s pure determination in order to follow his dreams of playing college football at his dream university.

Invictus (2009)

This Clint Eastwood film, based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, is based on the events that took place in South Africa at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon star as South African President Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar, South African Springboks captain. After Mandela is released from prison, he realises that the blacks in the stadium are not cheering for their national team because they believe South Africa’s mostly-white team represents prejudice and apartheid.

Mandela meets with Pienaar, who believes a South African victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup will unite the nation.

The Flying Scotsman (2006)

The Flying Scotsman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon, is based on the true story of Graeme Obree, who was struggling to run a failing cycle shop and having to supplement his income as a courier.

Obree plans to try and beat the hour record; however, he does not have the funding or the machine to beat it. He begins to construct a cycle from scrap metal and components from a washing machine.

After failing multiple times, Obree eventually wins the Individual Pursuit World Championship in 1993, but authorities change the rules as Obree tries to defend his title and crashes after being unable to adopt a new riding position. This leads his depression to spiral out of control.

Rush (2013)

Rush is a British-German sports drama film centered on the rivalry between race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One motor-racing season.

The two drivers continuously battle for titles, but when both of their personal and romantic lives develop, they both find it difficult to focus on racing. After Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) is seriously injured during the German Grand Prix, he watches Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) dominate in the races he is not able to attend, and returns to the race scene against his doctor’s orders. 

The Fighter (2010)

Directed by David O. Russell and starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, The Fighter focuses on the life of professional boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Bale).

Micky, who is managed by his half-brother and mother, has not had a very successful career so far and is considered to be a stepping stone for other boxers to defeat in order to move up in the ranks.

On the other hand, Dicky was a former boxer but is slowly falling apart, becoming addicted to crack cocaine and pushing his brother to take on opponents that are heavier than him.

Chariots of Fire (1981)

The film, based on true events surrounding the 1924 Olympics, focuses on two young British sprinters. The first, Scottish missionary Erik, runs because he believes he must please God. The other young man, Harold, is from a newly rich Jewish family and runs to prove his place in Cambridge society.

The two young sprinters face different challenges throughout the film. Harold is faced with criticisms from his school that are based off of their anti-Semitism and class-based sense of superiority. On the other hand, Erik faces criticism from his family who believe that he is not devout to God anymore.

Moneyball (2011)

This film, which is based on Michael Lewis’s 2003 nonfiction book of the same name, is the story of the Oakland Athletics baseball team’s 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) attempts to assemble a competitive team.

Faced with Oakland’s limited payroll, Beane struggles to scout players until he meets a young Yale economics major (Jonah Hill) who he hires as the Athletics’ assistant general manager. The two plan a non-traditional sabermetric approach to scouting players, which isn’t well received by the team managers and staff.

Beane eventually faces off with the Athletics’ manager, Art Howe (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), who completely disregards Beane’s sabermetric plan.

Million Dollar Arm (2014)

When American sports agent J.B. Bernstein finds himself struggling to find recruits, he has the perfect idea after watching an episode of Britain’s Got Talent and a cricket game.

Bernstein travels thousands of miles to India, where he starts the Million Dollar Arm contest and scouts out cricket bowlers. He recruits two young men and offers them the chance of a lifetime: the chance to try out for Major League Baseball and the possibility of signing a contract with an American baseball team.

Million Dollar Arm is coming to UK cinemas 29th August 2014


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