Bummed that you won’t be able to catch Foxcatcher this coming week?
The much-anticipated film about wrestling brothers Mark and Dave Schultz had been scheduled to open in select theaters Friday, Dec. 20, but won’t be released until sometime in 2014 “to give filmmakers more time to finish,” the entertainment publication Variety reported in late Sept.
In describing Foxcatcher, The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “The film -- which recounts the true story of an Olympic wrestling champion (Mark Schultz) whose brother (Dave Schultz), a fellow Olympian, was murdered by a paranoid schizophrenic millionaire (John du Pont).”
The American Film Institute -- which had been slated to show the movie's world premiere at its AFI Fest fundraiser in Hollywood on Nov. 8 – described Foxcatcher as “a psychological drama” which “tells the story of Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz, who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave…”
Most wrestling fans know that both Schultz brothers earned gold medals in freestyle at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. In addition, each had incredible collegiate mat careers. Elder brother Dave Schultz was a three-time NCAA All-American (one year at Oklahoma State, twice at University of Oklahoma), winning the 167-pound title for the Sooners in 1982. Mark Schultz was a three-time NCAA Division I champ for Oklahoma (1981-83).
Big-name film talent
Foxcatcher stars Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, Mark Ruffalo as his brother Dave, and Steve Carell as John du Pont, the multi-millionaire wrestling benefactor and owner of the Foxcatcher estate outside Philadelphia who murdered Dave in January 1996. Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, and Anthony Michael Hall are also key members of the cast.
Foxcatcher is directed by Bennett Miller, Oscar-nominated director of Capote and Moneyball. The script was written by E. Max Frye and Academy Award nominee Dan Futterman.
Top mat talent, too
It appears the Foxcatcher team has put considerable effort into making sure it provides an accurate portrayal of wrestling. Ruffalo, a high school wrestler in Virginia, trained with former college wrestlers John Guira (Wisconsin), Jesse Jantzen (Harvard), and NCAA heavyweight champ – and four-time Olympic medalist -- Bruce Baumgartner (Indiana State).
In January, College Wrestling Examiner reported that former American University wrestler Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov – now an assistant coach at Harvard – portrays Turkish wrestler Necmi Gencalp in a match with Mark Schultz at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, with actual referee Fred Feeney playing an on-the-mat official for that match in the film.
Other wrestlers who participated in the filming of Foxcatcher include Jake Herbert, 2012 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestler and two-time NCAA champ for Northwestern… 2012 Olympic alternate and Ohio State three-time All-American J.D. Bergman, along with fellow former Buckeye mat stars Reece Humphrey and Mike Pucillo… David Zabriskie, 2010 NCAA heavyweight champ for Iowa State, and 2011 heavyweight titlewinner for Lehigh, Zach Rey… and Keith Gavin, 2008 NCAA champ for Pitt.
When it was originally announced in mid-August that Foxcatcher would open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 20 – and nationwide sometime in Jan. 2014 -- the buzz within Hollywood was that this scheduling was designed with the Academy Awards in mind.
For a movie to be considered for Oscar nominations for 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires that a film be shown in theaters in NYC and L.A. during calendar year 2013.
In fact, The Hollywood Reporter had described the original Dec. 20 release date as "a prime perch for an awards run."
Considering the impressive credentials of the writers and director (both Capote and Moneyball received numerous Oscar nominations) – not to mention the original New York/Los Angeles opening-before-Dec. 31 strategy -- there was much speculation within the entertainment industry that Foxcatcher would be in the running for Academy Award nominations. It also didn’t hurt that the cast includes an Oscar winner (Vanessa Redgrave), an Oscar nominee (Mark Ruffalo), and, from early reports, casting-against-type, potential career-changing performances from Channing Tatum and Steve Carell.
So… why the delay?
In a late November article about anticipated holiday films, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “Delaying Foxcatcher was ‘a real practical decision,’ driven by (director Bennett) Miller's need for more time to finish the film, says Michael Barker, co-president of distributor Sony Pictures Classics. ‘We thought it was better if they took their time to finish the movie rather than rush to make a date.’"
The delay, while disappointing to amateur wrestling fans, isn’t totally unprecedented in Hollywood. At least two other major films with advance Oscar buzz slated for late December openings were pushed back to 2014: Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman, and George Clooney’s Monument Men.
A documentary in the works, too
In addition to the much-anticipated Hollywood film Foxcatcher, there’s a documentary about Dave Schultz and his murder now in the editing stages, according to a story posted at InterMat in September.
The documentary is not a quick response to Foxcatcher, but, rather, the realization of a long-time dream of Dave’s widow Nancy Schultz. She told InterMat she has wanted to do a documentary for about five years, but waited until the death of her husband’s murderer, John du Pont (who died in prison in Dec. 2010), saying, “Once he died, it opened the door to really move forward with the project.”
“Foxcatcher is very much Mark Schultz’s story, based on truth,” Nancy Schultz told InterMat. “In our documentary, we want to focus on Dave, how he got started, and all aspects of his life, without forgetting his great personality that made him a hero in places like Russia and Iran.”
The documentary’s executive producer, Jeremy Bailer, said of their project, “It’s not a wrestling movie, it’s a murder documentary. A high-profile, rich-man murder documentary.”
Want to know more...
- ... about Foxcatcher, the movie? Start with a brief preview of the movie on YouTube... then, check out stories posted to Examiner.com about Foxcatcher, most of them by College Wrestling Examiner. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie from real-life referee turned reel ref Fred Feeney, in a feature at InterMat. And check out the Foxcatcher listing at IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database) which features all the info could want on the movie, including a cast list.
- … about the wrestlers in the movie? Take a look at College Wrestling Examiner’s photo feature about the real mat studs who will be seen on the silver screen.
- … Nancy Schultz’s documentary about her late husband Dave? Take a look at InterMat’s feature story on her film, with an anticipated release date to coincide with Foxcatcher.
- ... the murder of Dave Schultz? Read InterMat's 2006 story, "The Life and Legacy of Dave Schultz, Chapter 1: The Day Wrestling Died."
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