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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: movies

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   1. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: July 16, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6029253)
Of the top kids movies of 2021

Good Housekeepings' top kids movies of 2021

Only a very few (Cruella, Jungle Cruise, Clifford the Big Red Dog) have a live-action component. The only movie with a sports theme is "Space Jam".

I wonder what kind of plot for a kids movie about baseball would work these days? Something about the independent leagues, maybe.

   2. DL from MN Posted: July 16, 2021 at 10:58 AM (#6029261)
Probably more important to make sure baseball video games are entertaining.
   3. Jay Seaver Posted: July 16, 2021 at 12:02 PM (#6029274)
I wonder what kind of plot for a kids movie about baseball would work these days? Something about the independent leagues, maybe.

There was a pretty good (and reasonably kid-friendly) South Korean movie last year about a teenage girl learning the knuckleball because she saw it as her only path to the KBO (creatively named "Baseball Girl"), and there's not necessarily any reason why it wouldn't work if transplanted to North America. You could probably do a pretty fun movie with an American kid whose parents moved to some foreign country trying to get his new friends into it, weird hijinks during the LLWS, etc.

They probably wouldn't hit theaters, though, but Netflix or Disney+ or something; there's just not a lot of room for modestly-scaled movies of any type in theaters these days, what with the constant supply of blockbusters that want 5 screens and what an advertising campaign costs - if something's not an immediate first-weekend hit, it's really hard to hang on as word of mouth spreads (and while you'd think it would be better on the streaming services, Netflix acquires/produces so much that things arguably get buried even faster and their recommendation algorithm isn't great). A family baseball movie is intersecting niches under that, and that's a tough row to hoe.
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 16, 2021 at 12:19 PM (#6029277)
Draft Kings Junior. Get kids addicted now to the fun and excitement of smart responsible, and most of all totally risk-free, gambling on baseball so they're ready to move up to the Major Leagues on their 18th*, 19th*, or 21st* birthday!

* Depending up location
   5. escabeche Posted: July 16, 2021 at 01:49 PM (#6029293)
The heyday of kids' baseball movies is whatever year the original Bad News Bears came out. By the 90s it was all over. I tried to watch the Sandlot with my kids -- awful, we turned it off after a half hour.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: July 16, 2021 at 02:02 PM (#6029296)
The heyday of kids' baseball movies is whatever year the original Bad News Bears came out.

I'd drop "kids" from that sentence.
   7. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: July 16, 2021 at 02:24 PM (#6029300)
By the 90s it was all over. I tried to watch the Sandlot with my kids -- awful, we turned it off after a half hour.

This take seems insane to me. I could see not being totally enamored with it, but awful?

I admit that I was at the exact right age to love these movies when they came out. I was 11 in 1993 and loved baseball, so I saw and enjoyed all of these movies (it also helped in the case of Angels in the Outfield that I'm a lifelong Angels fan). But my son (who is 11 now) also loves The Sandlot and, to a lesser degree, Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield. It would be fantastic to get a new baseball movie for his generation that he can have genuine nostalgia for and not simply share in mine.
   8. Zach Posted: July 16, 2021 at 02:27 PM (#6029303)
The parents started getting involved.

Now there *is* a rule saying dogs can't play baseball.
   9. Zach Posted: July 16, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#6029305)
I tried to watch the Sandlot with my kids -- awful, we turned it off after a half hour.

I haven't seen it in forever, but the Fourth of July scene is pretty spectacular for a kid's movie.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 17, 2021 at 12:26 AM (#6029368)
The Sandlot is a top five baseball flick for me, and it's one of my son's favorite movies. Even Rookie of the Year is silly - which is great, kid's movies should be silly. There should be more movies like that.

Now the 90s Angels in the Outfield? That's a bad baseball kid's movie.

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