Dodgeball, Blades of Glory, Balls of Fury. These are three of the countless examples of cinematic comedies that have arisen from casual sports. Now, esports joins the likes of dodgeball, ping pong, and figure skating in being spoofed on the silver screen. In an upcoming feature set to star Ellen Page, pro gaming will finally be the on-screen arena for a team of wacky underdogs to compete for glory.
The forthcoming movie will be called 1Up and is written by Julia Yorks with direction by Kyle Newman. Newman has previously directed Fanboys, a comedy about nerdy friends trying to break into Skywalker Ranch, as well as the Hailee Steinfeld/Samuel L. Jackson teen-spy action-comedy Barely Lethal. For her part, Yorks is the writer behind multiple episodes of Netflix’s Skylanders Academy (about the titular dragon from the popular Spyro video games) and The Adventures of Puss in Boots.
Intended to be in the same vein as Pitch Perfect, 1Up will follow a storyline inspired such esports affairs as ‘Gamergate’ and the rise of varsity esports. According to an article from Gamespot, plotwise, the movie will follow a female gamer—Vivian Lee—who quits her college’s esports team in response to the sexist behavior of her male peers. Lee will have to put together an all-female varsity esports team in order to maintain her scholarship. With the help of a mysterious coach who’s had their own Gamergate-esque struggles, Lee and her team of misfits will have to come together to “kick some serious gamer butt.”
Joining Ellen Page in the role of Vivian Lee is Paris Berelc, most recognizable from her career as a Disney Star and the recent Adam Sandler flick, Hubie Halloween. Page will be playing the coach and has had a successful career across the board; from Oscar fare like Inception and Juno, comic book fare like the X-Men franchise and Umbrella Academy, to her work representing the LGBTQ+ community in shows like Tales of the City and her queer travel show, Gaycation. More than her acting career on screen, Page has also worked in video games (Beyond: Two Souls) and has had her unauthorized likeness appear in the first The Last of Us game.
All in all, 1UP is ultimately one of the first major cinematic releases centered on contemporary esports—1989’s The Wizard is more an example of retro Nintendo propaganda/road trip movie than an esports film— and is a sign of the gaming industry’s continued development in public regard. Up until now, most screen portrayals of esports have been either documentaries or television sitcoms. Now, for the first time, esports is getting the big screen treatment, geared towards a major mainstream audience. Only time will tell if 1Up is any good, but regardless, it’ll be a landmark in esports cinematic history.