September 14, 2001
Bad News Bears meets the kids of the Chicago projects. A baseball/drama starring Keanu Reeves as a two-bit gambler who is forced into coaching an inner-city Little League team in order to obtain a loan to reconcile a gambling debt. He garners a life-changing experience in the process. Uh, OK.
This R-rated September 14th release, based on a true story, is not a baseball version of Disney/Buena Vista's Remember the Titans. The irony behind Hardball is that the PC sensibilities of the easily offended have been shaken by the realistic screenplay dialogue of elementary school-aged kids who actually engage in regular and unabashed use of profanity, which is why those very same aged kids are excluded from an unfettered PG-13 access to the film.
Attached director Brian Robbins (Varsity Blues) lends little hope to the prospect of any significant revenues for Hardball, as Reeves has evidenced little impact upon box-office revenues or drawing power for any of his recent films lacking the word matrix in the title. If Hardball was a comedy, it might have a shot; but it's not, and it doesn't. (Cal Hubbard/BOP)
August 22, 2001
The official site is now fully operational, and apparently the film has been edited enough to be re-rated to PG-13. Since the language in the film had been the source of quite a bit of controversy in the Chicago area, expect this olive branch to draw positive attention to the film in one of its most targeted markets (Hardball is set in Cabrini Green).
Box Office Autopsy
Hardball brought levity to the box office when North America needed something to laugh about. Opening just three days after the 9/11 attacks, Hardball found a heartwarming niche that played well following the devastating attacks.
Paramount's Hardball opened on Sept. 14, 2001 at a slim 2,137 venues. However, because all sporting events had been cancelled for the weekend, Hardball still played well, grossing $9.4 million in its first three days. The film had a not-bad opening weekend venue average of $4,392, but the good news for Paramount was still to come. No, Keanu didn't win an Oscar for his performance as the reluctant coach of an inner-city baseball team, but the film did drop only 14% in its second weekend; it was Keanu's best second weekend hold of his career. It grossed $8.1 million on its second frame after Paramount added 73 screens. The film didn't have a weekend drop above 40% until it was grossing in the low hundreds of thousands. The film had a humor and warmth that people attached themselves to, and Hardball became a word of mouth semi-hit. The production cost for Hardball was only $21 million and Paramount almost doubled there money with a final domestic gross of $40.2 million.
Hardball continued the somewhat-hot streak for Paramount in the summer/fall of 2001. The company had made money on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Score, Rat Race and now Hardball. Final grosses for those four films reached $300 million, while costs for the four were only $229 million.
Comparison films for Hardball
|Remember the Titans
|Any Given Sunday
|Major League 2
|Major League: Back to the Minors