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NFL Teams with Disney for "Invincible"

Wahlberg in InvincibleFor the first time in a decade, the NFL has partnered with a movie studio on the production and promotion of a major motion picture.  After years of turning down football films like "The Longest Yard," "Any Given Sunday" and "The Replacements," the league has joined forces with Walt Disney on "Invincible," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The last time the NFL felt a film was worth of its collaboration was "Jerry Maguire" in 1996.  Tracy Perlman, NFL director of entertainment marketing and promotions, said that the league felt "Maguire" genuinely represented the "heart and soul" of the game. Apparently the league feels similarly about "Invincible."

"The image of our game is really heroic and something to aspire to and you really haven't seen that in a lot of films. We think you see it here (with 'Invincible'). This movie is really about the heart of the game and it's about achieving your dreams," Perlman said.

"Invincible," due in theaters Friday, is the true story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender, out-of-work teacher and avid Philadelphia Eagles fan who never played college football but made the team at an open tryout. The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Papale and Greg Kinnear as Eagles coach Dick Vermeil.

Under the licensing deal, NFL team logos and the NFL shield appear throughout the film along with the authentic Philadelphia Eagles uniforms from 1976 and the NFL football from the mid-1970s.

To promote "Invincible," the NFL has initiated a marketing blitzkrieg.  The league bought scoreboard commercials and Jumbotron trailers, ran print and TV ads from ESPN, set up a dedicated page for the film, and organized an NFL Day at the Movies with all 32 NFL teams hosting screenings of the movie that will be attended by NFL players and local community groups.

Why would the NFL go all out for the film?  Well, to get more viewers/fans, of course.  Perlman said the NFL hoped the movie would encourage mainstream fans to watch more football, spark new interest in the sport, and change people's image of NFL players by showing "how hard they have to work to get where they are."

Marketing aside, the film sounds pretty good (or is that just the marketing propaganda I've bought in to?).  The Papale story is rather compelling (even if it smacks a bit like all other underdog makes good sports tales).  I don't usually go in for these kinds of films, but "Rudy" does get me every time.  Maybe it's Jon Favreau yelling "He's so little!"  Maybe it's the Hobbit.  Whatever it is about these films that pulls at even the most cynical of heart strings, "Invincible" looks like a decent film to see after beers and burgers with friends.  I doubt it'll get me to watch more (or some) football, though.  -- Shannon Nolley

Posted by Shannon on August 24, 2006 12:07 PM
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