National Champions Trailer Sports An Outrageously Talented Cast And Serious College Football Drama

Although 2021 has provided a wide assortment of different movies, whether they played in theaters or were streaming exclusives, there hasn’t been much from the sports genre outside of watching LeBron James play basketball with the Looney Tunes in Space Jam: A New Legacy. Luckily for fans of sports movies, along with the Zachary Levi-led American Underdog arriving in late December, there’s also National Champions coming out earlier in the month, and it boasts an impressive lineup of talented actors and some serious drama surrounding college football.

Hailing from STXfilms and Lionsgate, National Champions follows a star college quarterback named LeMarcus James, played by Homecoming’s Stephan James, and teammate Emmett Sunday, played by Vikings’ Alexander Ludwig, organizing a players strike so that all college athletes are fairly compensated. As seen in the trailer, Stefan lays out how he and his teammates don’t see a dime from the money these football games rake in, and the players who aren’t later drafted into the NFL will go without any compensation or medical insurance for the injuries they sustained while playing the sport. Meanwhile, their coach, James Lazer, played by J.K. Simmons, receives an annual salary of $5 million, and he’s just the tip of the iceberg of the notable figures in the NCAA who pull in millions of dollars while the players get nothing.

Needless to say that Stefan and Emmet organizing a strike causes a lot of problems, especially considering that it happens just days before a National Title game. The actors playing the individuals who stand to lose a lot from the collegiate athletics system being overturned include  Lil Rel Howery, Tim Blake Nelson, Andrew Bachelor, Jeffrey Donovan, David Koechner, Kristin Chenoweth, Timothy Olyphant and Uzo Aduba. Fortunately for Stefan and Emmett, many others join their boycott, which has the potential to not just change college football, but the entire collegiate athletics system too. 

While it may look like National Champions is based on a true story, rest assured that this is a fictional story, so there’ll be no turning to articles or books to learn how this college football conflict ends. Behind the scenes, Greenland’s Ric Roman Waugh directed off a script from 21 Bridges’ Adam Mervis, who wrote the original play the movie is based on. Since National Champions precedes American Underdog by a few weeks, this will be the first theatrically-released football-centric drama since 2015’s Woodlawn.

National Champions opens in theaters on December 10, the same day that 20th Century Studios’ West Side Story, Netflix’s Don’t Look Up and Amazon’s Being the Ricardos arrive. Learn what other movies are left to arrive this year with our 2021 release schedule, or look through the 2022 release schedule to map out what you’ll check out next year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.