Two of this year’s hottest actresses are slated to star in competing films about lesbian tennis icon Billie Jean King: Fox Searchlight has cast Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes, a retelling of her historic match against aging chauvinist Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell).
Back in 1973, when a 29-year-old King was the Number 2 woman in tennis (and still married to a man), 55-year-old retired Wimbledon champion Riggs bragged he could beat any woman on the court. A challenge was issued, with a $100,000 prize for the winner.
King entered the Astrodome in Cleopatra style, carried aloft in a chair held by four bare-chested muscle men dressed in the style of ancient slaves. Riggs followed in a rickshaw drawn by a bevy of scantily clad models. He presented King with a giant lollipop and she gave him a piglet.
…Rather than playing her own usual aggressive game, she mostly stayed at the baseline, easily handling Riggs’s lobs and soft shots, making Riggs cover the entire court as she ran him from side to side and beating him at his own defensive game. After quickly failing from the baseline, where he had intended to play, Riggs was forced to change to a serve-and-volley game. Even at the net, King defeated him: 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.
The match was televised—scoring the highest ratings since the Moon Landing four years prior.
It’s a great story—which may be why another studio is also making a Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs movie. HBO and Playtone have tapped Proof scribe David Auburn to write another King-Riggs film, with Pitch Perfect star Elizabeth Banks as Billie Jean and Paul Giamatti as Bobby Riggs.
And then there’s Chernin Entertainment’s film Match Maker, which would see Will Ferrell as Riggs. Yup, there are currently three films being made about the Battle of the Sexes.
It’s not that uncommon for a hot story to get green-lighted at more than one studio—usually one project rises to the top and the others fall by the wayside. But occasionally we end up with both Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror.
Battle of the Sexes, expected to get a 2016 release, will be a comedy with political and dramatic overtones, according to Deadline.