Kevin Costner's "Draft Day" to be a Score at the Box Office

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The General Manager of the Cleveland Browns struggles to acquire the number one draft pick for his team.
Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
April 7th, 2014

Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Costner's new comedy-drama "Draft Day" tells the story of how one NFL general manager boldly negotiates the high-stakes power struggles surrounding of the annual NFL draft.

Also playing in this Ivan Reitman-directed feature alongside Costner are Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary and Frank Langella.

The Story Line

In "Draft Day," Costner's character, Sonny Weaver Jr., is the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Weaver and the Browns have been on a long-term losing streak, and Weaver needs to successfully secure the number one draft pick in order to salvage his career and the future of his team.

The movie gives a fascinating inside perspective on the high-stakes balancing act of the NFL draft. The negotiations are tense, there are enormous amounts of money involved and the lives of hundreds of players hang in the balance. With limited time and attacks on his judgment from all angles, Weaver cannot afford to second-guess his instincts.

The Key Players

Co-written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph and screenwriter Scott Rothman, the movie focuses on the struggle between Weaver and the other people who also have heavy investments in the result of the draft, including the team's owner, the team's coach and the players themselves.

Frank Langella plays the team's owner. Over the years, he has lost faith in Weaver's decision making and makes it clear that this draft is Weaver's final chance.

Denis Leary plays the Browns' coach. Despite his obvious position of authority with the team and distinct investment in the team's success, the coach has little direct influence on the draft. Jennifer Garner plays the team's salary cap manager who attempts to work with Weaver to make the best choices for the team.

All of these key players have the shared goal of putting together a winning team, but vastly different perspectives on how to achieve it.

Special Appearances

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster makes his film debut in "Draft Day" as one of the players whose future is caught up in the draft. In addition to Foster, several other NFL players appear in the movie, including Demario Davis, Stephen Hill and James Brewer.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and ESPN's Jon Gruden both have cameo appearances in the movie.

Sean "Diddy" Combs, Chadwick Boseman, Ellen Burstyn, Rosanna Arquette and Sam Elliott are also featured in the cast.

NFL Cooperation

What sets "Draft Day" apart from many other sports movies is that the filmmakers had the cooperation of the NFL, which lends a very realistic, insider feel. Portions of the movie were shot in Radio City Music Hall before and during the 2013 draft with the cooperation of the NFL. The NFL reportedly helped the filmmakers alter actual 2013 draft materials.

Cooperation with the NFL also enabled the producers of the film to use the actual names of the NFL franchises. The characters in the movie are fictional, but teams themselves use the actual names. Costner attributed the NFL's decision to assist with the movie to the league's satisfaction with the authenticity of the script as well as the actor's history of association with successful sports films, including baseball classics "Field of Dreams" and "Bull Durham" and golf movie "Tin Cup."

The team at the center of "Draft Day" is the Cleveland Browns. Originally, the movie was going to be about the Buffalo Bills, but Reitman chose to shift the movie to Cleveland for financial reasons. The Browns were a perfect match for the movie since they have not been a winning team since returning to Cleveland in 1999.

Tone

"Draft Day" strikes an interesting balance between the tension and nervous excitement that epitomize the NFL draft while effectively highlighting the struggle between personal achievements and teamwork.

While "Draft Day" has its moments of extreme tension, there are also comedic moments in the film. Billed as a comedy-drama, the PG-13 film differs from what filmgoers may expect from director Ivan Reitman. Reitman is best known for his comedies, including "Animal House," "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes." The comedy in "Draft Day" is less overt than most of Reitman's signature work but occurs organically within the plot.

Kevin Costner's first football movie is sure to excite sports fans and movie buffs alike with its smart, fast-paced approach to the drama surrounding the NFL draft. The chemistry between the movie's cast is electrifying, and viewers can expect spectacular sports shots balanced with a focus on the off-field dynamics.

The actual NFL Draft happens on May 8, 2014, but the movie "Draft Day" opens across the United States on April 11.