You really have to wonder if writer, director, and all around good guy Taika Waititi ever sleeps? As if announcing that he’ll be working with Marvel Studios on Thor: Love and Thunder, and making the rounds with awards season prospect Jojo Rabbit weren’t enough, the man’s been planning on making another film in-between those two projects. And today, we’ve finally gotten confirmation that Waititi will indeed be directing the soccer film Next Goal Wins for Fox Searchlight, thanks to an official announcement that came from the studio today.
Based on the true story of the American Samoa soccer team, and their preparations for the 2014 World Cup after suffering the worst loss on record in the 2001 games, Next Goal Wins has a cast that boasts Michael Fassbender and Elizabeth Moss as two of its leads. Fassbender will be playing the role of Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen, the man who would be recruited to put the team into shape, while Moss’s role is as of this moment undisclosed.
With the acting roster for Next Goal Wins rounded out by Hawaii Five-0 actors Beulah Koale and Lehi Falepapalangi and Thor: Ragnarok alum Rachel House, there’s a fair bit of diversity in Taika Waititi’s latest film. But the most notable inclusion is that of non-binary actor Kaimana in their film debut as the first non-binary player to ever compete in a Men’s World Cup game, Jaiyah Saelua.
You can see why this story leapt out to Taika Waititi, as not only is Next Goal Wins the sort of underdog story that he’s taken on in the past, but it’s a story that comes with some important historical cues when it comes to the story of Saelua’s participation in the game. With the ability to bring humor and heart to his work, Waititi’s choice to tell the story of a sports team that fought to overcome their historic lose, with a diverse roster, is one that should excite fans of his work. It should also excite fans of the game of soccer, as Next Goal Wins also promises to celebrate the very pastime they hold dear.
With Taika Waititi reteaming with Fox Searchlight for another story that takes a looming darkness and finds some light at its heart, Next Goal Wins sounds like it’s ready to lift spirits, and bring some respectful laughs, to historical events. It also keeps him firmly in the Disney family, as the Fox Searchlight label is an imprint owned by the studio; which certainly helps when it comes to balancing his efforts to prepare Thor: Love and Thunder for its 2021 release.
There’s no release date in mind yet for Next Goal Wins, as the film has just started principal photography today. But don’t be surprised if it happens to pop up on the 2020 release schedule at some point; especially if Jojo Rabbit cashes in on the awards hype it’s been getting. You can see the latter film for yourself, as it’s currently rolling out in theaters throughout the rest of the year.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.