Someone Needs to Get a Pele Movie Done Right

Someone Needs to Get a Pele Movie Done Right

While I am one who believes that for too much significance is given to the accomplishment of becoming a professional athlete, I will be the first to admit that there are some athletes that completely transcend their sport and time. In these cases, I believe it is the responsibility of those in certain positions of influence to acknowledge greatness. Professional athletics is just that — a profession. Being an athlete, in and of itself, is nothing to celebrate; however, there are some who have captured greatness and greatness is always worth celebrating. Michael Jordan literally redefined professional basketball and Wayne Gretzky did the same thing for professional hockey. In the same sense, Pele literally put soccer on the map.

Pele not only defined an era, he ushered in a new one. With all of this mind, the idea of creating a film about this charismatic star was an exceptional idea. So, why then did the film Pele: The Birth of a Legend fare so poorly at the box office? The movie did not fail because it was a poor idea. It was a great idea. I believe that the movie tanked because the conceptualization of how the image of Pele would be presented was fallible.

I don’t believe the producers and writers fully thought their concept through. It seems that they thought they could ride the rising popularity of soccer and soccer moms and dads would load up the mini-van and take droves of kids to see this movie. Maybe they thought that many people who were alive to see this genius play the game would become nostalgic and race to the theaters to get one last glimpse of the past.

Here is what they did not consider. They did not consider that while the game of soccer has become increasingly popular in the U.S., it has evolved so much from the time that Pele played the game that there are too many stars that create a buffer from today’s reality and yesterday’s master. In order to introduce a movie of this caliber in a manner that will drive people, you must develop a viable strategy of how you will frame it. Framing this presentation is where the ball was dropped. Instead of attempting to ride the popularity of soccer today, the producers should have invested in making the connection between yesterday and today and the role this icon played in making that happen.

Jessie Owens set a standard in track and field that was not even approached until the arrival of Carl Lewis, and the way that track and field kept Jessie relevant was the constant comparison to what Lewis was about to attempt in the 1984 Olympics. With that being said, so much has happened in track and field since 1984 that Carl Lewis, who may be the greatest track and field athlete in history, is currently irrelevant. To do a movie on this track and field giant now would require a great deal of framing in a manner that would make him relevant to this generation of bigger, stronger and faster athletes.

In the same light, Pele must be framed and noted properly before a feature film will fare well at the box office. He simply cannot compete against the magnitude of soccer phenoms that current stretch throughout the globe. You have to give new life to him if you want him to live again as the reigning king.

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