Gerard Butler and a soccer movie: A match made in Scottish heaven?


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Back when the World Cup was getting underway, my colleague John Horn asked in this sharp piece why there were so many movies about baseball but so few about soccer. The most successful soccer film in recent years is probably “Bend It Like Beckham,” but the hits don’t go much beyond that.

That score may get a little less lopsided as “Slide,” a movie about a father with a dubious past brought in to coach his son’s Little League baseball team, looks to be reconfigured as a soccer movie.


There’s new momentum for the project, with producers in talks with Gerard Butler to star as the coach (Butler has heretofore been on board only as a producer). Will Smith collaborator Gabriele Muccino, who directed the actor in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds,” has been interested in directing the movie for some time, though there are still scheduling issues to iron out. Robbie Fox, who wrote “So I Married an Ax Murderer,” wrote the screenplay.

The movie, which was originally titled “Confessions of a Little League Coach,” is a character comedy that centers on a troubled father trying to make up for lost time by coaching his son’s team -- but who finds himself in hot water after some of the local mothers take a little too much of a shine to him (and he to them). Butler has no preferred baseball club that we know of, but is reputed to be a supporter of Glaswegian football team Celtic, which would make the soccer theme a little more resonant than a baseball one.
The picture, which is being produced by Butler’s Evil Twins banner, veteran Hollywood producer Kevin Misher and “Surrogates” director Jonathan Mostow, is not formally set up at a studio. It had initially been developed at Sony but could well end up financed independently. If it does end up being distributed by the studio, the switch from baseball to soccer would likely only help the project; Sony, after all, already has a high-profile baseball movie in Brad Pitt’s “Moneyball.”

While most soccer films are indies or documentaries, the bigger-budget ones here tend to center on the game among kids and teenagers, notably Will Ferrell’s “Kicking & Screaming” from back in 2005 or Amanda Bynes’ “She’s the Man” from 2006. With the World Cup now behind us, it may fall on Gerard Butler to change that, one free kick at a time.

--Steven Zeitchik

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