1. The Rosie Ruiz–Boston Marathon Scandal
What Happened: At the 1980 Boston Marathon, Rosie Ruiz ran off the course, hopped on a subway, and burst out of the crowd about a half mile from the finish line. She “won” the female category, setting a race record, but was soon disqualified. Further investigations revealed that she had cheated in previous marathons as well.
The Pitch: Get Ben Affleck on the horn. This is basically The Town, except instead of bank robbers, the FBI’s chasing a sweaty con artist through the streets of Boston. To make Ruiz sympathetic we pretend she needs the prize money for her grandfather, who was injured in a lobstering accident. The only potential downside is that Affleck will likely demand to play the role of Ruiz himself.
2. 10-Cent Beer Night
What Happened: As part of a promotion for a 1974 game against the Texas Rangers, the Cleveland Indians sold beer for 10 cents a cup — still only 47 cents in today’s money. Amazingly, this caused fans to get rowdy, and things got so out of control that the Indians were forced to forfeit in the ninth inning.
The Pitch: In a reprisal of his Frank the Tank role, Will Ferrell plays a reformed ex-party animal catching a ballgame with his rich, uptight father-in-law. If he can keep his cool for nine innings, he can score a cushy gig at the father-in-law’s company. There’s just one catch: BEER. FOR 10 CENTS. Think Old School meets 28 Days Later.
3. Fan Man
What Happened: During a 1993 heavyweight title fight between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe, James Miller (aka “Fan Man”) crash-landed a paraglider into the ring, delaying the match for 20 minutes. Bowe’s entourage attacked Miller until he was knocked unconscious.
The Pitch: By fudging a few facts, this could make for a pretty riveting action film. Maybe Miller was prolonging the match to stop a group of terrorists from blowing up Caesar’s Palace, à la Jean-Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death?
4. Spain’s 2000 Paralympic Basketball Scandal
What Happened: At the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, Spain fielded a paralympic basketball team of players who posed as mentally disabled. The scandal was broken by a journalist who went undercover as a player on the team, causing the IPC to suspend all sporting events involving those with learning disabilities for nine years.
The Pitch: Pedro Almodovar. Javier Bardem. Penelope Cruz. Done. Enjoy your garbage truck full of Oscars.
5. England’s Tug of War Dominance at the 1908 Summer Olympics
What Happened: In 1908, tug of war was still an Olympic event, and Great Britain dominated, fielding three separate teams and sweeping all three medals.
The Pitch: Chariots of Fire with a touch of Friday Night Lights. A film about an English burgh that lives, eats and breathes tug of war. Will this film use the act of straining against a rope as a metaphor for straining against the social conventions of small-town society? You bet it will. Plus, there were nine men to a tug of war team back then, which means a lot of British eye candy.
6. Dan & Dave
What Happened: In an attempt to compete with Nike in the track and field market, Reebok launched a pricey campaign around U.S. decathletes Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson, who were favorites to medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics. The campaign derailed when O’Brien failed to qualify for Barcelona, and was eventually edited to feature Dan cheering on Dave.
The Pitch: This is bromance gold. There’s the one-on-one competition a la Amadeus, the Mad Men-esque advertising fiasco, but, above all, this is a story about two best buds; I Love You, Man in running shorts.
7. Disco Demolition Night
What Happened: In 1979, the Chicago White Sox invited fans to bring their most hated disco records to Comiskey Park, where they would then be exploded in a mass funeral pyre on the field. The stadium was filled to over twice its max capacity, and fans rushed onto the field.
The Pitch: It’s Swing Kids meets Saturday Night Fever. A White Sox player (Channing Tatum) secretly moonlights as “king of the dance floor,” and he feels conflicted about his team’s anti-disco promotion. Can his smooth disco moves save the genre he loves?
The Shameless Cross-promotional Sci-Fi Pitch: Daft Punk go back in time to stop Disco Demolition Night, thereby saving disco and preventing hair metal from ever happening.
8. Manti Te’o
What Happened: In case you’ve been living under a rock, here.
The Pitch: This could be for online dating weirdness what The Social Network was for social media. In fact, there are probably thousands of screenwriters pitching this right now. While it’s compared to the documentary Catfish, Te’o’s story has so many more twists and turns, including the debate over his own involvement in the hoax. Please make ASAP, Hollywood.