Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ivan Reitman|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Box office||$29.5 million|
Draft Day is a 2014 American sports drama film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner. The premise revolves around the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns (Costner) deciding what to do after his team acquires the number one draft pick in the upcoming National Football League draft.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on April 7, 2014 and was released in the United States on April 11, 2014. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed just $29 million against its $25 million budget.
On the morning of the 2014 NFL Draft, Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr. must decide how to use the seventh overall pick to improve the team, but he has other problems on his mind. His girlfriend Ali Parker, the team's salary cap analyst, is pregnant. Also, his father's recent death and funeral plans cause pandemonium with his mother.
The Seattle Seahawks hold the first overall pick, which general manager Tom Michaels offers to trade to the Browns, allowing them to draft highly-rated quarterback prospect Bo Callahan, the Heisman Trophy winner from Wisconsin. Sonny declines, but with advice from team owner Anthony Molina to "make a splash," reluctantly trades away the Browns' first-round draft picks for the next three years. The unexpected chance to obtain Callahan excites Browns fans, but splits the team's front office and players.
The trade goes public after a tweet by Ohio State linebacker Vontae Mack, who had been Sonny's first preference. Seahawks fans are unhappy at missing Callahan, putting pressure on Tom for giving Callahan up. Vontae advises Sonny to re-watch footage of him and Callahan playing against each other. Vontae's individual performance is superior but Callahan leads his team to victory on a last-second drive with a wrongly-ejected Vontae not on the field. Sonny begins to have doubts about Callahan's character and ability under pressure. When the draft begins that evening, Sonny waits until the last minute to decide who to select with the first pick, and eventually chooses Vontae. Roger Goodell's announcement of the selection shocks the rest of the league and disrupts many of their plans for their own picks. Molina becomes irate and flies back to Cleveland, intent on firing Sonny. Head coach Vince Penn is also incensed, and threatens to resign.
Rumors spread about Callahan as other teams avoid him, wondering why Sonny didn't pick him. However, the Seahawks are still in contention to pick Callahan with their seventh pick, and Sonny senses an opportunity. Sonny convinces the rookie general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars to trade him their next pick (at sixth, just before the Seahawks) in exchange for the Browns' second-round draft picks for the next three years. Sonny then calls Tom, who intends to pick Bo Callahan at seventh, trying to prevent the Seahawks from having him. In return for passing on Callahan to let the Seahawks have him, Sonny demands his first-round picks back, along with punt returner David Putney. The Seahawks seal the deal and choose Callahan. With his pick, Sonny appeases Penn and Molina by selecting the skilled running back Ray Jennings of Florida State.
The team celebrates an outstanding draft for the Browns. After the draft party, Sonny reconciles with his mother over his excellent draft performance and her soon-to-be first grandchild.
Crowd reactions of fans at the actual 2013 NFL Draft, as well as Cleveland Browns fans at local bars, were filmed. Cameos with real-life NFL figures such as league commissioner Roger Goodell and ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman were filmed before and after the draft took place. The rest of the film began filming on May 8, 2013.
As in the film, the Cleveland Browns made splashes at the draft, trading up to select quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick. The team also made several deals, trading away their fourth pick to the Buffalo Bills but for their ninth pick, as well as their 2015 first round pick. They later traded up to the eighth pick to draft Justin Gilbert. Finally, after watching Manziel drop farther than projected, they again traded up for the 22nd pick. Chris Berman, who played himself in the fictionalized draft, commented at the 2014 NFL Draft that the events surrounding the Cleveland Browns were more exciting than the film. Unlike the film, the Browns selected the much-hyped Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, as opposed to passing on Bo Callahan, the fictionalized first pick favorite.
The film grossed $28.8 million in North America with an additional $604,801 overseas for a worldwide total of $29.5 million, against a budget of $25 million.
The film grossed $9.8 million in its opening weekend, finishing in fourth place at the box office behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Rio 2, and Oculus (the latter two also being new releases).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 59% based on 153 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 5.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It's perfectly pleasant for sports buffs and Costner fans, but overall, Draft Day lives down to its title by relying too heavily on the sort of by-the-numbers storytelling that only a statistician could love." On the aggregated review site Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
On the contrary, Jack Hamilton of Slate was harshly critical. "The 'filmmaking' here consists of making sure the camera is pointed at people who are explaining the film's plot to one another, preferably while they are wearing logos and standing in front of more logos," he wrote. He suggested the NFL's involvement had made the film too upbeat. "[It] isn't so much a movie as a movielike infomercial for the kinder, gentler NFL ... In the wake of labor strife, off-field scandals, and the ongoing CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) crisis, the NFL is doubling down on its fantasy of paternalism, and Draft Day is that fantasy's porn film."
Former Green Bay Packers vice president Andrew Brandt criticized Draft Day as "lacking any true depiction of how an NFL team operates leading up to and during the draft", and less realistic about the business of sports than Jerry Maguire and Moneyball.