The Missy Franklin Dance Movie And Four More Olympics 2012 Stories Begging For The Hollywood Treatment
The London Olympics may be winding down, but this has been a games rich with intrigue and suspense. As the slightly more private intrigue and suspense taking place in the athlete's village heats up, it's time to look back at some of the athletic — and cinematic — achievements that wowed us these past weeks. For some of these moments, a 10-minute Bob Costas TV segment simply isn't enough — only a feature film will do! With that in mind, here are five Olympics 2012 stories that, with a little positioning from Hollywood's ace screen (re)writers, could become the next big popcorn blockbuster.
5. Usain Bolt: The Faster He Runs
After Bolt's Jamaican training partner Yohan Blake bested him in the 100m and 200m sprints at their country's Olympic trials in July. he arrived in London beneath a cloud of speculation that he'd passed his prime. But the naysayers ended up eating Bolt's dust when, hilarious histrionics in hand, he coasted to a second gold medal in the 100m. Blake took the silver.
The Pitch: No one in Hollywood wants to see people run — unless, of course, they are running away from other people. With guns! The obvious answer is a crime thriller — reminiscent of Perry Henzel's 1972 Reggae-soaked classic, The Harder They Come, which starred Jamaican music great Jimmy Cliff. The plot would center around a heist in which two competitive but ultimately friendly partners steal all the island's gold and silver, but leave the bronze behind for the Americans as a consolation prize.
The Stars: Bolt is too big of a personality for any actor to get right. He's also the kind of head-turning personality that would put asses in seats. He should play himself, and Jamie Foxx could do justice to Blake. As for a love interest, how about Beyonce in the role of women's 100m gold medal winner, Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce?
The Director: Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job)
4. Missy Franklin: Step Up 4 Gold
There was plenty of buzz surrounding the 17-year-old sweetheart from Colorado, and Franklin did not disappoint. Winning four gold medals (100m Back, 200m Back, 4x200m Free, 4x100m Medley), one bronze (4x100m Free), and setting the world record in the 200m Back, only Michael Phelps had more success in the London pool. (He matched Missy's four golds while also taking home two silvers.). Franklin's winning personality also scored big points and cemented her role as one of America's new favorite Olympians. Beginning with that infectious "Call Me Maybe" video and continuing through her victory-lap interview with Costas — where she drolly remarked that she and her fellow swimmers hadn't had any fun at all — Missy and her enormous smile stole our national heart.
The Pitch: Think teen dance movie where Missy and her swimmer pals have to team up to save the community swim center from an Australian real estate developer. Throw in a few dance numbers and you've got a hit.
The Stars: Emma Stone's megawatt smile can almost do justice to Missy's big ol' grin. Chris O'Dowd should play the Aussie developer because he's everywhere right now. And, of course, an obvious cameo by Missy Franklin fan Justin Bieber would round things out nicely.
The Director: Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D)
3. Women's Doubles Badminton Scandal: The Disqualified
In one of the 2012 Games darker moments, boos rang out in London when two sets of Women's Doubles Badminton teams deliberately attempted to lose their matches. They were looking to exploit a loop hole in the tournament's round-robin format that allowed the lower-placed team to face an easier opponent. It might have worked, too, if only the two South Korean teams, the Chinese team, and the Indonesian team were any good at losing. Instead, they made a mockery of the Olympic spirit, and the Badminton World Federation tossed all four squads from the tourney — a draconian but ultimately proper punishment.
The Pitch: As funny as this bizarre Olympic episode was to watch, no one can take more than a few minutes of such pathetic play at a time. So it makes sense that this story be told in flashback, through the thrilling guise of a courtroom drama. A plucky young prosecutor going head to head with a brilliant defense attorney who has been spending more time hitting the bottle than the law books could keep the audience in suspense all the way to the, um, verdict. Throw in an action-packed subplot involving shuttlecocks — with high intensity cutaways in the third act — and a box-office winner (about purposely losing) could be born.
The Stars: Amy Adams as the plucky prosecutor alongside Matthew McConaughey as the down on his luck defenseman could help bring in the female audience as well.
The Director: Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
2. The U.S. Women's Soccer Team's Defeat of Canada: Up...And In!
In what's being called the most incredible head-to-head team event of these Olympic games, the USA women's soccer team fell behind three times to Canada, only to emerge victorious in overtime. A stoppage time header by young superstar Alex Morgan just barely sailed over the outstretched fingers of Canadian goal keeper Erin McLeod to win the match for the US and save the team from a decisive penalty shoot out (which cost them the World Cup against Japan last summer). On Thursday, the U.S. women got their rematch with Japan and payback with a gold-medal win.
The Pitch: As most soccer fans know, it's really tough to get Americans to go to a soccer movie. (We're still waiting for a worthy third entry in the Goal series; that travesty they named Goal 3 does not count). As a result, we're going to have to think outside the box on this one. Since movie audiences do seem eager to watch cute animated talking animals do just about anything, Pixar should get on board to make the first CGI animated Olympic movie. The Chinese could be portrayed as pandas, the Japanese as tanukis, the Canadians as moose and, well, the Americans would all be foxes.
The Stars: An impressive array of young female voice actors from Vanessa Hudgens to Mila Kunis. Of course John Ratzenberger would have a part as the stodgy old groundskeeper. Let's make him a walrus.
The Director: Pete Docter (Up)
1. Archery Emerges As A Crowd Pleaser Quiver
Every Olympics, one fringe sports transcends its fringe-iness. In Vancouver, it was curling. In London, archery kicked it up a notch. After the US men's team defeated the favorite South Koreans in a wild semifinal, they eventually took silver on a final-arrow bullseye by the Italians. Given that the sport's Olympic rise parallels its popularity in Hollywood with the recent archery mania in Hollywood — The Hunger Games, Brave, Hawkeye in The Avengers and, heck, even Moonrise Kingdom — and chances are this one's getting greenlit.
The Pitch: London has been the setting for plenty disaster actioners (28 Days Later, Doomsday, Attack the Block), so why not one more? In this movie, a bio-weapon targeting the Olympic Village could turn all the athletes into bloodthirsty (and particularly fit) zombies. Relegated to their distant location at Lord's, the archers find themselves the only athletes unaffected and must use those crazy teched-out bows to bring the zombie invasion to its knees. Bullseye!
The Stars: Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner are the natural choices to lead the hero archers. The zombies could be a veritable who's-who of athletes turned actors, from Gina Carano and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to Bruce Jenner and Bob Uecker.
The Director: Danny Boyle (28 Days Later)
…Wait! We can't stop there! Here is one bonus pitch, sure to be the biggest blockbuster of Summer 2014!
The U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team: The Fab Five
With three gold medals, (Gabby Douglas's All-Around, Aly Raisman's Floor Exercise, and the Team All-Around), one silver (McKayla Maroney's Vault), and one bronze (Aly Raisman's Balance Beam), the U.S. women's gymnastic team's Fab Five will be hailed for generations to come. But the competition wasn't without controversy. A new rule kept World Champion Jordyn Wieber out of the All-Around while an obscure tie-break rule cost Aly a bronze in the same competition. She got her retribution in the end when the team appealed her score in the Balance Beam, won the appeal, and was given a tie score for third. This time the tie-breaker worked in her favor and Aly took the medal.
The Pitch: With the success of The Avengers and buzz over an upcoming Justice League, team superhero movies are all the rage. So what could be more fitting than the Fab Five putting aside their differences and defeating those pesky Russians? Then, after the Russian are vanquished, the real enemy emerges: evil gymnastics judges!
The Stars: Keke Palmer as Gabby, Shailene Woodley as Jordyn, Raquel Castro as Aly, Liana Liberato as McKayla, and Jodelle Ferland as Kyla Ross. ABC Family, here we come!
The Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Ryland Aldrich is an admitted Olympics addict averaging 17 hours of daily viewing. After the games wrap up Sunday, he'll go back to his normal life as Festivals Editor at Twitch, counting down the (542) days to Sochi 2014. You can read his film festival coverage at Twitch and follow him on Twitter @RylandAldrich.