Borg/McEnroe, the biopic about the legendary rivalry between tennis stars Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, will make its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 7. The film has always seemed more geared toward international audiences, with trailers focusing more on Borg. But in the U.S., Borg/McEnroe has drawn more attention for Shia LaBeouf portraying the fiery McEnroe.
The film follows McEnroe’s renowned rivalry with Swedish star Borg (played by Sverrir Gudnason) that dominated tennis during the late-70s and early-80s, culminating in the 1980 championship match at Wimbledon.
Producers for the movie are favoring an international release first, playing Borg/McEnroe in the U.K., Sweden, Norway and Germany in the fall. No U.S. release date has been scheduled. But if the film draws a favorable reception in Toronto, with positive reviews and buzz, distributors might pick the movie up for a domestic theatrical release during the latter part of the year.
If you haven’t seen it, here is the trailer for Borg/McEnroe:
The movie is directed by Janus Metz Pedersen, who helmed an episode of True Detective‘s second season. Pedersen also directed a 1996 BBC documentary about the Borg-McEnroe rivalry titled Clash of the Titans. Borg/McEnroe isn’t a great title, but at least viewers will know what the movie was about. Would using the players’ nicknames of “Fire” (McEnroe) and “Ice” (Borg) have worked any better? Probably not.
LeBeouf also hasn’t been able to avoid headlines himself in recent months. Earlier this month, the actor was arrested for public drunkenness in Georgia, and video of LaBeouf insulting and threatening a police officer was made public by TMZ. He eventually apologized for his remarks, saying he was “deeply ashamed” and “struggling with addiction.” That’s probably not the sort of publicity that filmmakers want for Borg/McEnroe, especially if LaBeouf is asked about his recent problems on the red carpet and in subsequent interviews to promote the movie.
Drawing the opening night screening in Toronto, one of the most renowned film festivals, speaks well for Borg/McEnroe, and gives it a nice spotlight. However, it’s not necessarily an indication of critical and box office success.
Last year, The Magnificent Seven remake starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt opened the festival and had a successful run in theaters. But in past years, movies such as The Judge (starring Robert Downey Jr.), Demolition (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) and The Fifth Estate (the Julian Assange biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch) have opened the festival and didn’t make a good impression among critics and the box office.