James Caviezel, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis and Alexander Ludwig are set to star in the inspirational high school football movie "When the Game Stands Tall," which Mandalay is producing for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and its AFFIRM Films division.
Principal photography starts today in New Orleans, and the film is slated for release in the fall of 2014.
Caviezel and Chiklis star as Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson, the visionary coaches who led De La Salle High School's struggling football team to unparalleled national record-breaking success by teaching them to stand for something greater than winning. The team had a 151-game winning streak from 1992 to 2003.
Dern will play Caviezel's supportive wife, while Ludwig ("The Hunger Games") will play Chris Ryan, the team's standout running back who is chasing the state scoring record.
Thomas Carter ("Coach Carter") is directing screenwriter Scott Marshall Smith's adaptation of Neil Hayes' bestselling book of the same name. David Zelon ("Soul Surfer") is producing for Mandalay. Alan Graf ("Friday Night Lights") will coordinate the football scenes. Peter Nelson and Rich Peluso will oversee the film for SPWA and AFFIRM Films.
"On the surface, it appears that these players just won a lot of football games, but what makes this story so special is that this is a coach who placed little value on winning, instead focusing his players on giving a 'perfect effort' in life," said Zelon. "Underneath it is a resounding testimonial about how much more kids can achieve when they are challenged with responsibility and commitment."
"The story of 'When the Game Stands Tall' resonates far beyond football or sports in the way all great sports films do," added SPWA president Steve Bersch. "At its core, this is a timeless and universal story about character, hard work and love. Coach Lad's inspirational and unyielding focus on building integrity, discipline, faith and commitment above all else is his foundation for excelling in coaching and life, and is what gives this story its unique power and magic."
"Bob Ladouceur and his commitment to excellence and perfect effort are the reasons why I want to make movies," explained Carter. "This is a story that goes way beyond a 151-game winning streak. The De La Salle story is an almost unbelievable inspiration to anyone who really knows it."