I read the book “How Soccer Explains the World”, but it didn’t really explain the world to me. However, watching soccer movies has taught me a lot about the world. When I research the context of a film and why it was made, I learn things the movie did not have time to convey, or I travel down additional paths. I often add that information to my reviews.
I spend about 3-5 hours on each movie: 1.5 to 2 hours to watch it, 1.5 to 3 hours to research the movie’s background, and then the writeup. It has been my obsession to watch and review all soccer movies since 2011.
Things I’ve learned about making soccer movies
Here are some of the things I learned from the first 100 soccer movies and football films, either about making movies or life in general.
- Of the first 100, 5 were really good, 20-25 were worth watching, about 30 were pretty bad, and 10 really stunk.
- Using numbers from BoxOfficeMojo.com, 10 movies made good money: Bend It Like Beckham, Goal, Shaolin Soccer, She’s the Man, Ladybugs, Looking for Eric, Joyeux Noel, Kicking & Screaming, The Big Green, and Victory. Other than the first 3 of these, movies made money because of who was in them, not because of the quality of the movie. Which explains why those big stars get the big dough.
- The other 90 movies lost money
- It seems like most directors and writers only get one chance to make a feature film.
- Many soccer movie releases are timed to the world cups
- You would be ill-advised to invest your life savings in helping someone make a movie about soccer (or any movie for that matter).
After the USAvMEX WC 2018 qualifier at Azteca, I was very fortunate to meet a Hollywood lawyer who explained the financial side of how movies get made. Producers basically make their money when they sell a concept to investors and distributors. Filmmakers who can’t arrange this kind of financing end up raising money from family and friends.
With today’s technology, it is possible for directors to make a pretty good-looking film with a relatively small amount of private financing. But private financing means they don’t have a distribution deal lined up. Then it takes 1-2 more years to get the film online so that people can watch it. However, streaming income is very small–maybe pennies per view. The film becomes an item in the director’s CV or portfolio, and maybe something for me to review on this website.
How many soccer movies are there?
While I have reviewed over 300 movies, there are over 600 more that I haven’t seen. In advance of the World Cup or other major championships, new soccer movies premiere around the world, lengthening my To Do list. The problem is that I don’t want a burgeoning DVD collection, or else the movie isn’t available/playable in my area (most soccer movies originate outside the USA).
A new trend from around 2014 has been the growth in streaming series about soccer clubs or players. These series can be from 4-10 episodes, and take a lot of time to watch and review. As of the pandemic, I started to review some of these if I felt they offered something unique and weren’t just marketing tools for clubs.
Other things I’ve learned from soccer movies
- In Latin American movies, women are generally portrayed as prostitutes or bimbos. Oh wait a minute, that’s true in Hollywood films as well… #MeToo
- Politicians use soccer as the opiate of the masses
- Women in Muslim countries can’t even go to a soccer game
- African male soccer players are subject to human trafficking
- Amanda Bynes was a very talented comedic actress
- So is Missi Pyle
- The original treatment for syphilis was probably worse than the disease
- Brazil had the largest slave trade in the Americas
- Brazil has very bad slums, and the practice of using ether to get high began with Carnavale.
- Andrés Escobar committed an own goal at WC 1994, losing to the USA. He was murdered when he returned to Colombia. But he was probably not killed for that OG.
These are the major lessons I’ve learned from soccer movies, football films, and futbol peliculas.