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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Baseball Needs More Kids Movies

The interesting thing about these movies, aside from the weighty topics they focus on, is that all three came out in the span of two years, making 1993 and ’94 the halcyon days of baseball movies for kids. So why is it that we don’t see these movies made anymore? Both The Sandlot and Angels in the Outfield spawned direct-to-video sequels, and all three were made on modest budgets that saw solid box office return. Angels in the Outfield cost about $24 million to make and earned over $50 million worldwide, and it’s easily the worst-reviewed of the three. Rookie of the Year cost $10 million to make and grossed over $56 million. The Sandlot cost $7 million to make and grossed about $34 million in theaters but went on to become a massive home video success. Historically speaking, baseball movies aimed at kids do well, even when the reviews don’t love them.

Yet the last baseball-themed movie for children to receive wide theatrical release was the animated Everyone’s Hero, which came out in 2006 to poor results, earning only $16 million against its $35 million budget. I think part of the problem might be the movie industry’s newfound love of animated features over live-action. The lovingly-crafted b-roll footage of going to a game is lost amid all the polish and pixels of the animated format; it’s nice to look at, but it isn’t real. The movie also wasn’t very good, garnering only middling reviews, with one critic calling it “sweet, but ultimately disposable.”

We are at a stage in baseball’s lifespan where it is becoming critical to engage a younger audience. While the focus might be on luring in Millennials and Gen-Z, I’d say the smart target would be to aim younger. The beat writers and die-hard fans of today were the ones watching these movies when they first came out. For a lot of people, a love of baseball could easily have been rooted in seeing Rookie of the Year for the first time; it probably created more than one lifelong Cubs fan.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 15, 2021 at 10:07 PM | 10 comment(s)
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