In the wake of Disney’s big panel at CinemaCon today, they’ve released the trailer for their fall sports film from Searchlight Pictures, Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins.”
The film, an adaptation of the sports documentary of the same name, is based on the true story of Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), the soccer coach tasked with turning around the American Samoa national soccer team, considered one of the weakest teams in international play, in their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Waititi’s humor is on full display in the trailer, with Abba’s “Take a Chance on Me” playing throughout. As blonde Fassbender stars as Rongen, a down-on-his-luck coach engaging in the sports formula of traveling to a different country to turn a ragtag group of soccer players into champions. Waititi himself even plays on this, emphasizing his losses of an Oscar with “Jojo Rabbit” and a Teen Choice Award for “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Waititi is director and co-screenwriter alongside Iain Morris. The project is being put out by Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium Productions, which optioned Mike Brett and Steve Jamison’s documentary in 2015. Producers include Waititi, Serkis, Jonathan Cavendish, Garrett Basch, Brett and Jamison. Michael Fassbender stars as Rongen along with Elisabeth Moss, Will Arnett and Rhys Darby.
The film has had a long road to release, in spite of Waititi’s success as a director. Actor Armie Hammer was initially cast, but after he was hit with rape and abuse allegations he was replaced with Will Arnett.
Since that time the film has leapfrogged between release dates. In December it was pushed from its April 21, 2023 release date to September 22nd before being pushed to November 17th at the beginning of this month. The pre-Thanksgiving release could be a sign of confidence in the project, as fall features from specialty distributors are so often considered awards contenders. It could also be why Waititi is reminding people in the trailer that he was nominated for an Oscar.
It was also reported that the November move could help build up word-of-mouth ahead of features like Apple’s “Napoleon” and Disney’s animated feature “Wish.” If anything, this only enhances the film’s underdog storytelling.
Watch the trailer above. “Last Goal Wins” hits theaters November 17.