Why Are There So Many Movies About Boxing?
People Love True Life Stories
And any sports gives a fantastic opportunity to tell a real life-tale. Where perhaps some of the lead character’s story are not strong enough or deep enough to hold a film alone, the ease to add in sporting competition for drama without much effort. Many of the most well-known boxing movies are based on true stories, such as Raging Bull, The Fighter, Ali, Cinderella Man and The Hurricane. Even Rocky was roughly inspired by the real life Chuck Wepner.
People Love Working Class Heroes Showing A Soft Side
Writers often write what they know. It is the easiest thing to do authentically. So what often happens is the market is flooded with films about writers and filmmakers, middle class romances, or angsty teens. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a desire from audiences to see working class characters however, and boxing films give an opportunity to see these kind of characters, but without it needing to be a miserable kitchen-sink drama. The high stakes atmosphere of boxing also means we get to see these normally tough men breaking down crying.
People Love a Dramatic Ending
Sure, some may prefer slow paced ambiguous or contemplative finales, but it is in our nature and weaved into the fabric of conventional storytelling that people want a dramatic third act. With boxing films you tend to only get one of two endings - the triumphant win, or the heartbreaking (yet still somewhat triumphant) loss. Either way it is hugely dramatic.
People Love Rocky Films
This is in ways both a cause and an effect. True, people only love Rocky films for many of the reasons in this article, but just its success in becoming one of the biggest film franchises in history has allowed there to be a steady stream of high profile Sylvester Stallone films over the last 40 years which has helped established a major movie genre.
People Love Slow Motion
And you need it for boxing films. With lightning fast fists, movies give us a chance to see the quick skill which is often all a blur in live real life matches. The ability to change from realtime to slowmo shots helps us dramatically experience fights to a far greater degree than you otherwise could. And who doesn’t love a super slow-mo of a face being squished into a glove as spittle ripples through the air?
People Love Black Actors
And yet they still disproportionately hold very few of the main roles in big Hollywood films. Due to their often biopic nature and a reflection of the sport as a whole, many of the best-loved black actors have taken lead roles in boxing films, including Carl Weathers, Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Michael B Jordan, further catapulting these films to a wide ranging audiences.
People Love Actors Undergoing A Physical Transformation
And big actors love the opportunity to show that they are a dedicated enough actor to both transform themselves physically as well as emotionally. When this happens it is great interview fodder for the promo run, with every newspaper, podcast and TV show describing training regimes, diets and weight changes. From Jake Gyllenhall in Southpaw to Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull, we just want to see bulked up actors!
People Love Boxing Around The World
America has the biggest movie industry in the world, but their national sports of baseball, American football, basketball and ice hockey tend not to be the biggest sports around the world. In Europe, soccer and rugby dominate, while cricket also has pockets of popularity around the world. Boxing is a sport that, although generally not a national sport, is relatively popular in all countries, and even if it is not, the simplicity of two men fighting transfers well on screen.
People Love Theatrical Aesthetics
Yet often it is far too cliched for normal films. However in boxing movies, just like real life boxing, you can have all the flashing lights, loud music, over the top costumes and trash talking promos. It is essentially professional wrestling but where the two fighters are actually knocking each other out, making for ver cinematic fight sequences.
People Love An Underdog Comeback
And boxing movies basically write themselves when it comes to this. Whether it's just a straight progression from nobody to somebody, or following initial success a down-on-his-luck boxer ends up champion, the structure of boxing movies easily makes for dramatic straight forward set pieces.