By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 17, 2012 at 8:39AM
Despite being the world's favorite sport, and gaining increasing traction in the U.S., the number of great films about soccer (or football, as those of us in the rest of the world accurately call it), can be counted on the fingers of no hands. From John Huston's "Escape To Victory" to the would-be-blockbuster trilogy "Goal," virtually every attempt to capture the beautiful game on screen has stumbled badly, even as seemingly less cinematic sports like baseball and golf end up driving a string of classics.
But it sounds like one of Hollywood's biggest A-list directors is about to try and crack the code, albeit in documentary form, as 24 Frames report that Paul Greengrass, the British helmer behind "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," is planning to make a film on one of the world's most successful clubs, F.C. Barcelona. Entitled "Barca," the film will look at the Spanish club, who have won 21 league titles and four European Champions Leagues (most recently in 2011) in their 113-year history, and among their current star players boast Argentinean Lionel Messi, frequently labelled the most gifted footballer in the world right now.
Greengrass (who returns to non-fiction here, having started out his career making documentaries for British series "World In Action") has been given an all-access pass to the club, and intends to capture action both on the pitch and off it, planning a "Moneyball"-style look at the business side of the club too. And he's got an impressive team behind him: noted sports journalist John Carlin (who penned the book on which "Invictus" was based) is serving as a consultant and executive-producer, and the editor is Chris King, who deservedly won a BAFTA for his astonishing work on last year's hit sports documentary "Senna." Funding comes from Anonymous Content ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Babel").
Greengrass is currently filming Somalian pirate drama "Captain Philips," with Tom Hanks, but intends to get rolling on "Barca" once he wraps up on that, and will document the team across the 2012-2013 season, with a release date targeted for 2014, which presumably means that his other prospective projects, including Martin Luther King biopic "Memphis" and Robert Harris adaptation "The Fear Index" are on hold for the moment. We're sure that Greengrass, a noted football fan himself (Chelsea are his team, we believe) will have the right passion for the game, and will bring his visceral filmmaking skills, so we're confident that he'll turn out a movie that appeals not just to sports obsessives, but also non-fans. 2014 can't come soon enough.