Principal photography has begun on “Battle of the Sexes” in Los Angeles, Fox Searchlight announced earlier today. No release date has been confirmed, but the casting is delightful: Emma Stone and Steve Carell will star as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, respectively, with Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming in supporting roles. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who helped establish Carell as a dramatic performer in “Little Miss Sunshine,” are set to direct.
The title refers to the famed 1973 tennis match between King and Riggs, an intergender showdown that was then the most-watched televised sporting event of all time. 90 million people tuned in, 50 million of them in America alone, while 30,472 were in attendance at the Houston Astrodome to witness the confrontation firsthand — a record for tennis in the United States until 2012.
It was far from a low-key affair. Riggs, a notorious hustler with significant gambling debts, was paid $50,000 to wear a yellow Sugar Daddy jacket, and King entered the arena a la Cleopatra. That kind of pageantry, which would appear to have more in common with professional wrestling than tennis, speaks to how strongly the match captured the collective imagination — it’s viewed as a watershed moment for women’s athletics.
For more tennis drama, watch the “7 Days in Hell” trailer: