Leave it to Disney to make a feel-good film about a special-teams player who lasts all of three seasons in the NFL. Based on the brief career of the Eagles' Vince Papale, the heavily marketed Invincible is a slight film with a groovy soundtrack. It's the NFL's answer to Rudy – and that's pretty darn pathetic.
Hollywood long ignored football in favor of making baseball and boxing movies. Now, football is a popular genre. Why? The usual reason anything gets done in Hollywood -- $$$ -- especially after 1996's Jerry Maguire ($154 million domestic), 1999's Any Given Sunday ($75 million domestic) and 2000's Remember the Titans ($115.6 domestic) broke through. Other recent football movies -- The Replacements (2000), Radio (2003), Friday Night Lights (2004), and the Longest Yard remake (2005) – led to, inevitably, Invincible, which ranked number one at the box office in its first two weeks of release. (It's grossed about $45 million so far.) Another football film, Gridiron Gang, comes this weekend; the star of that film, The Rock, will star in yet another football film coming in '07.
The Movie Times website – which provided the above b.o. figures -- reveals that the three highest grossing sports films of all-time are about . . . football: The Waterboy (1998), at $161.5 million (domestic), followed by the Longest Yard remake, at $158.1 million, and Maguire. What it says about football that Adam Sandler starred in two of these three films is beyond my feeble imagination.
While I'm on the subject, a belated happy birthday to Ed Sabol (now 90). Sabol was the original mastermind behind NFL Films, producing documentary-like features that helped craft the image of the league in the 1960s and 1970s. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle (the Compton High grad who became the Rams p.r. man) sagely allowed Sabol unprecedented access on the sidelines and in the lockerrooms; Sabol sagely used the dulcet baritone of announcer John "Voice of God" Facenda to underscore his brilliant images. Here's a birthday tribute to the elder Sabol (his son, Steve, now runs NFL Films) from the Philadelphia Inquirer.