Battle of the Sexes is a 2017 biographical sports film directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton and written by Simon Beaufoy. The plot is loosely based on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The film stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell as King and Riggs, leading an ensemble cast including Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Bill Pullman, Natalie Morales, Eric Christian Olsen, and Sarah Silverman in supporting roles. The film marks the second collaboration between Carell and Stone after Crazy, Stupid, Love and the second collaboration between Riseborough and Stone after Birdman.
|Battle of the Sexes|
|Directed by||Valerie Faris|
|Written by||Simon Beaufoy|
|Edited by||Pamela Martin|
|Music by||Nicholas Britell|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$18.6 million|
The film had its premiere at the 44th Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Fox Searchlight Pictures on September 22, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Stone and Carell and the direction, with some calling it the best performance of Stone's career. Despite the positive reviews, the picture was a box office bomb, grossing $18.6 million against a $25 million budget.
At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, Stone and Carell received nominations for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy respectively. Both received Critics Choice Awards nominations in the categories Best Actress in a Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy. At the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Carell received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
In 1970, Billie Jean King and Gladys Heldman confront Jack Kramer, who has organized a tennis tournament where the top prize for women is one-eighth of the men's prize, despite equal ticket sales. King and Heldman threaten to start their own tour but Kramer won't alter the terms, citing the inferiority of women's tennis. When Billie Jean, Julie Heldman, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Dalton, Kristy Pigeon, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kerry Melville Reid, Nancy Richey, and Rosie Casals sign on as the “Original 9” players of what becomes the WTA Tour, Kramer bans them from tournaments organized by the US Lawn Tennis Association.
While the women's tour struggles during its early days, Billie Jean begins an affair with Marilyn Barnett, her hairdresser, threatening her marriage to Larry King. Meanwhile, Bobby Riggs' marriage to the wealthy Priscilla Whelan is in trouble because of his addiction to gambling. Thrown out of his house when he can't conceal a Rolls-Royce he won in a tennis bet, he hits upon the idea of a challenge match against the top woman player, boasting that even at age 55 he can beat any woman.
The women's tour has slowly gained a stronger foothold, with the Women's Tennis Association formed in 1973. Riggs continues to pressure King to play him. Eventually, Riggs persuades Margaret Court, who recently overtook King to gain the World No. 1 ranking, to play a match in May 1973. Riggs easily defeats Court and King decides she has to accept his challenge, but demands a final say as to the arrangements. King trains intensely, while Riggs relaxes. King objects to Kramer as a game announcer, threatening to not play unless he withdraws, which he does. After a slow start, King wins the match, changing the future of women's tennis. The film ends with a written epilogue that King eventually divorced her husband and had a long-term same-sex relationship while Riggs reunited with his wife.
- Emma Stone as Billie Jean King
- Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs
- Andrea Riseborough as Marilyn Barnett
- Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman
- Bill Pullman as Jack Kramer
- Alan Cumming as Cuthbert "Ted" Tinling
- Elisabeth Shue as Priscilla Riggs
- Austin Stowell as Larry King
- Natalie Morales as Rosie Casals (“Original 9”)
- Jessica McNamee as Margaret Court
- Fred Armisen as Rheo Blair
- Lewis Pullman as Larry Riggs
- Martha MacIsaac as Jane “Peaches” Bartkowicz (“Original 9”)
- Mickey Sumner as Valerie Ziegenfuss (“Original 9”)
- Bridey Elliott as Julie Heldman (“Original 9”)
- Eric Christian Olsen as Lornie Kuhle
- Wallace Langham as Henry
- Matt Malloy as Rigg's Therapist
- Dan Bakkedahl as Gamblers Anon Leader
- Chris Parnell as DJ
- Bob Stephenson as PR Sugar Daddy
- John C. McGinley as Bobby’s friend
- James Mackay as Barry Court
- Lauren Kline as Nancy Richey (“Original 9”)
- Ashley Weinhold as Kristy Pigeon (“Original 9”)
- Fidan Manashirova as Judy Tegart Dalton (“Original 9”)
- Kaitlyn Christian as Kerry Melville Reid (“Original 9”)
- Mike Vogel as Nightclub Dancer
- Tom Kenny as Bob Sanders
The project and its two leads were announced in April 2015. Brie Larson was, for a brief period, set to replace Stone due to scheduling conflicts, but these were cleared up. On March 3, 2016, Andrea Riseborough was cast to play Marilyn Barnett, King's hairdresser and lover. Later that month, three more were cast in the film, Elisabeth Shue as Riggs' wife; Austin Stowell as Larry King, Billie Jean's husband; and Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman, the founder of World Tennis magazine. Four actors joined the cast in April: Eric Christian Olsen as Lornie Kuhle, Jessica McNamee as tennis player Margaret Court, Alan Cumming as designer Ted Tinling, and Natalie Morales as player Rosie Casals.
Principal photography on the film began in Los Angeles on April 13, 2016, with a budget of more than $25 million.
For the tennis match scenes, tennis players Kaitlyn Christian (who portrays “Original 9” member Kerry Melville Reid) and Vince Spadea were the body doubles of Stone and Carell, respectively.
Battle of the Sexes had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017, and at the BFI London Film Festival on October 7, 2017. The film began a limited release in the United States on September 22, 2017, before going wide the following week.
Battle of the Sexes grossed $12.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $5.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $18.4 million.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $515,450 from 21 theaters, an average of $24,545 per theater. The film expanded the following Friday, where it was released alongside the openings of Flatliners, 'Til Death Do Us Part and American Made, and was projected to gross around $6 million from 1,213 theaters over the weekend. It ended up making $3.4 million over the weekend, finishing 6th at the box office. Deadline Hollywood noted the film's weekend gross was disappointing given its cast and positive reviews. The following week the film was added to another 609 theaters and made $2.4 million, dropping just 30%.
On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 307 reviews, with an average rating of 7.19/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Battle of the Sexes turns real-life events into a crowd-pleasing, well-acted dramedy that ably entertains while smartly serving up a volley of present-day parallels." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave the film an overall positive score of 74%.
|2018||AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards||Best Actor||Steve Carell||Nominated|||
|Best Time Capsule||Battle of the Sexes||Nominated|
|2018||Casting Society of America||Studio or Independent – Comedy||Justine Arteta
and Kim Davis-Wagner
|2018||Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Actor in a Comedy||Steve Carell||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Comedy||Emma Stone||Nominated|
|2018||Dorian Awards||LGBTQ Film of the Year||Battle of the Sexes||Nominated|||
|2018||GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Film – Wide Release||Nominated|||
|2018||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Steve Carell||Nominated|||
|Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||Emma Stone||Nominated|
|2018||Satellite Awards||Best Actress – Motion Picture||Nominated|||
|2018||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role||Steve Carell||Nominated|||
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