Battle of the Sexes (2017 film)

Battle of the Sexes is a 2017 biographical sports film directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton and written by Simon Beaufoy. The plot is loosely based on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The film stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell as King and Riggs, leading an ensemble cast including Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Bill Pullman, Natalie Morales, Eric Christian Olsen and Sarah Silverman in supporting roles.

Battle of the Sexes
Theatrical release poster
Directed byValerie Faris
Jonathan Dayton
Produced by
Written bySimon Beaufoy
Music byNicholas Britell
CinematographyLinus Sandgren
Edited byPamela Martin
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • September 2, 2017 (2017-09-02) (Telluride)
  • September 22, 2017 (2017-09-22) (United States)
  • November 24, 2017 (2017-11-24) (United Kingdom)
Running time
121 minutes[1][2]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$25 million[3]
Box office$18.6 million[4][5]

The film had its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Fox Searchlight Pictures on September 22, 2017.[6] It received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Stone and Carell and the direction, with some calling it the best performance of Stone's career. Despite the positive reviews, the picture was a box office bomb, grossing $18.6 million against a $25 million budget.

At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, Stone and Carell received nominations for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy respectively.[7] Both received Critics Choice Awards nominations in the categories Best Actress in a Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy. At the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Carell received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.


In 1970, Billie Jean King and Gladys Heldman confront Jack Kramer, who has organized a tennis tournament where the top prize for women is one-eighth of the men's prize, despite equal ticket sales. King and Heldman threaten to start their own tour but Kramer won't alter the terms, citing the inferiority of women's tennis. When Billie Jean, Julie Heldman, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Dalton, Kristy Pigeon, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kerry Melville Reid, Nancy Richey, and Rosie Casals sign on as the “Original 9” players of what becomes the WTA Tour, Kramer bans them from tournaments organized by the US Lawn Tennis Association.

While the women's tour struggles during its early days, Billie Jean begins an affair with Marilyn Barnett, her hairdresser, threatening her marriage to Larry King. Meanwhile, Bobby Riggs' marriage to the wealthy Priscilla Whelan is in trouble because of his addiction to gambling. Thrown out of his house when he can't conceal a Rolls Royce he won in a tennis bet, he hits upon the idea of a challenge match against the top woman player, boasting that even at age 55 he can beat any woman.

The women's tour has slowly gained a stronger foothold, with the Women's Tennis Association formed in 1973. Riggs continues to pressure King to play him. Eventually, Riggs persuades Margaret Court, who recently overtook King to gain the World No. 1 ranking, to play a match in May 1973. Riggs easily defeats Court and King decides she has to accept his challenge, but demands a final say as to the arrangements. King trains intensely, while Riggs relaxes. King objects to Kramer as a game announcer, threatening to not play unless he withdraws, which he does. After a slow start, King wins the match and Riggs reunites with his wife.



The project and its two leads were announced in April 2015.[8] Brie Larson was, for a brief period, set to replace Stone due to scheduling conflicts, but these were cleared up.[9][10] On March 3, 2016, Andrea Riseborough was cast to play Marilyn Barnett, King's hairdresser and lover.[11] Later that month, three more were cast in the film, Elisabeth Shue as Riggs' wife;[12] Austin Stowell as Larry King, Billie Jean's husband;[13] and Sarah Silverman as Gladys Heldman, the founder of World Tennis magazine.[14] Four actors joined the cast in April: Eric Christian Olsen as Lornie Kuhle,[15] Jessica McNamee as tennis player Margaret Court,[16] Alan Cumming as designer Ted Tinling,[17] and Natalie Morales as player Rosie Casals.[18]

Principal photography on the film began in Los Angeles on April 13, 2016, with a budget of more than $25 million.[19][20]

For the tennis match scenes, tennis players Kaitlyn Christian (who portrays “Original 9” member Kerry Melville Reid) and Vince Spadea were the body doubles of Stone and Carell, respectively.[21][22]


Battle of the Sexes had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2017.[23] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2017,[24] and at the BFI London Film Festival on October 7, 2017.[25] The film began a limited release in the United States on September 22, 2017, before going wide the following week.[26]


Box office

Battle of the Sexes grossed $12.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $5.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $18.4 million.[4]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $515,450 from 21 theaters, an average of $24,545 per theater.[27] The film expanded the following Friday, where it was released alongside the openings of Flatliners, 'Til Death Do Us Part and American Made, and was projected to gross around $6 million from 1,213 theaters over the weekend.[28] It ended up making $3.4 million over the weekend, finishing 6th at the box office. Deadline Hollywood noted the film's weekend gross was disappointing given its cast and positive reviews.[27] The following week the film was added to another 609 theaters and made $2.4 million, dropping just 30%.[29]

Critical response

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 291 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Battle of the Sexes turns real-life events into a crowd-pleasing, well-acted dramedy that ably entertains while smartly serving up a volley of present-day parallels."[30] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[31] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale,[32] while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave the film an overall positive score of 74%.[27]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards February 5, 2018 Best Actor Steve Carell Nominated [33][34][35]
Best Time Capsule Battle of the Sexes Nominated
Casting Society of America January 18, 2018 Studio or Independent – Comedy Justine Arteta and Kim Davis-Wagner Nominated [36]
Cinema For Peace Awards February 19, 2018 Most Valuable Film of the Year Battle of the Sexes Nominated [37]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Actor in a Comedy Steve Carell Nominated [38]
Best Actress in a Comedy Emma Stone Nominated
Dorian Awards February 24, 2018 LGBTQ Film of the Year Battle of the Sexes Nominated [39]
GLAAD Media Awards April 12, 2018 Outstanding Film – Wide Release Battle of the Sexes Nominated [41]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Steve Carell Nominated [42]
Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Emma Stone Nominated
Satellite Awards February 10, 2018 Best Actress – Motion Picture Emma Stone Nominated [43]
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 21, 2018 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Steve Carell Nominated [44]

See also


  1. "Battle of the Sexes". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  2. "BATTLE OF THE SEXES". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 6, 2017
  3. "Production of Fox Searchlight's Battle of the Sexes Contributed Over $25 Million to the California Economy". MPAA. September 21, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  4. "Battle of the Sexes (2017)". The Numbers. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  5. "Battle of the Sexes (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  6. Tartaglione, Nancy (August 15, 2017). "London Film Festival To Serve 'Battle Of The Sexes' In Gala European Premiere". Deadline. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  7. Rubin, Rebecca (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  8. Fleming Jr, Mike (April 20, 2015). "Game, Set Match? Searchlight Serves Up 'Battle Of The Sexes;' Dayton & Faris Direct Emma Stone As Billie Jean King, Steve Carell As Bobby Riggs". Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  9. Kroll, Justin (September 18, 2015). "Brie Larson in Talks to Play Billie Jean King in 'Battle of the Sexes' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  10. Kroll, Justin (November 18, 2015). "Emma Stone Set to Star as Billie Jean King in Fox Searchlight's 'Battle of the Sexes' (EXCLUSIVE)". Archived from the original on March 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
  11. Kroll, Justin (March 3, 2016). "'Battle of the Sexes' Adds Andrea Riseborough (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  12. Kroll, Justin (March 21, 2016). "Elisabeth Shue Joins Emma Stone in Fox Searchlight's 'Battle of the Sexes' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  13. A. Lincoln, Ross (March 22, 2016). "Austin Stowell Joins Billie Jean King Biopic 'Battle Of The Sexes' In Key Role". Deadline. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  14. Hipes, Patrick (March 23, 2016). "Sarah Silverman A Match For 'Battle Of The Sexes'". Deadline. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  15. Lincoln, Ross A. (April 1, 2016). "Eric Christian Olsen Swings For 'Battle Of The Sexes'; Talitha Bateman Joins 'Vengeance: A Love Story'". Deadline. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  16. Fleming, Jr., Mike (April 7, 2016). "Jessica McNamee Plays Margaret Court In 'Battle Of The Sexes'". Deadline. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  17. Siegel, Tatiana (April 12, 2016). "Alan Cumming to Co-Star in Fox Searchlight's 'Battle of the Sexes'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  18. Pedersen, Erik (April 13, 2016). "Natalie Morales Game For 'Battle Of The Sexes'; Jimmy Smagula Books 'Rebel In The Rye'". Deadline. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  19. Evry, Max (April 13, 2016). "First Battle of the Sexes Photo as Filming Begins". Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  21. Pantic, Nina (September 26, 2017). "How Battle of the Sexes Made the Tennis Look Real". Baseline. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  22. Barnes, Katie (September 19, 2017). "How Emma Stone picked up Billie Jean King's game for 'Battle of the Sexes'". ESPN. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  23. Hammond, Pete (August 31, 2017). "'Darkest Hour', 'Battle Of The Sexes', 'Lady Bird' Among World Premieres In 2017 Lineup – Telluride Film Festival". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  24. "Toronto Film Festival 2017 Unveils Strong Slate". Deadline. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  25. Stewart Clarke. (August 15, 2017). "London Film Festival Serves Up 'Battle of the Sexes' Gala Screening". Variety. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  26. D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 21, 2017). "'Battle Of The Sexes': Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs Tennis Pic Sets Fall Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  27. D'Alessandro, Anthony. "'It' Breaks Three-Way Tie Battle, 'Kingsman' & 'American Made' Fight For Second". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  28. Ryan Faughnder (September 27, 2017). "'It' drives record September box office with Tom Cruise's 'American Made' ready to battle 'Kingsman'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  29. "'Blade Runner 2049' Dulls -11% On Saturday; Weekend Opening Now At $31M+: Sunday Postmortem". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  30. "Battle of the Sexes (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  31. "Battle of the Sexes reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  32. Brooks, Brian (September 24, 2017). "Victoria And Abdul' Reigns With Top PTA; 'Stronger' & 'Battle Of The Sexes' Solid – Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  33. Lee, Ashley (January 17, 2018). "AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards: 'The Post' Leads Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  34. "Complete List of Winners at the 2018 Movies for Grownups Awards". AARP.
  35. "Complete List of Winners at the 2018 Movies for Grownups Awards". AARP.
  36. Ford, Rebecca (January 2, 2018). "Artios Awards: Casting Society Reveals Film Nominees (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  37. "Nominations 2018". Cinema for Peace Foundation. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  38. Hammond, Pete (December 6, 2017). "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'The Shape Of Water' Leads With 14; Netflix Tops TV Contenders". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  39. Kilday, Gregg (January 10, 2018). "'Call Me by Your Name' Leads Dorian Award Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  40. Kilday, Gregg (January 31, 2018). "Dorian Awards: 'Call Me by Your Name' Hailed as Film of the Year". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  41. Kilday, Gregg (January 19, 2018). "GLAAD Media Awards: The Complete List of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  42. THR Staff (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globes: 'Shape of Water,' 'Big Little Lies' Top Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  43. Pond, Steve (November 28, 2017). "'Dunkirk,' 'The Shape of Water' Lead Satellite Award Nominations". TheWrap. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  44. "SAG Award Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
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