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Whatever happened to the baseball movie?

Despite an uptick in sports movies, the days of Bull Durham, The Natural and Moneyball are long behind us

The ***** of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The green grass and the brown dirt. These are the sights and sounds that bring joy to baseball fans every April, both in person and on the silver screen. Historically, baseball films are released in the spring to coincide with Opening Day, when even the most deadened fanbase can spare a smidge of romance and optimism. The Bad News Bears, Major League, Field of Dreams, Fever Pitch and 42 were all released in April. This year, there are none to be found, and that’s not a scheduling accident. A baseball film hasn’t had a significant theatrical release – in any month, let alone April – since 2016, when Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! landed with a thud at the box office.

It’s a strange phenomenon since movies about other sports are thriving. In March and April, no fewer than four basketball films will be released (Champions, Air, Somewhere in Queens, Sweetwater). Already this year there have been hit movies about the NFL (80 for Brady) and boxing (Creed III). Other 2023 films will tackle wrestling (The Iron Claw), tennis (Challengers), and soccer (Next Goal Wins). The only baseball film on the calendar is The Hill, a faith-friendly true story of a disabled minor leaguer in the 1970s, but it lacks any major stars and is being released in the doldrums of August.

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