Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

Superfight, Special Film

The Superfight is quite an extraoridnary film. It was the brainchild of Murray Woroner, a Miami fight promoter who, in 1968, hired then undefeated heavyweight boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano, for $10,000 apiece, to shoot a movie of a fight between them decided by a computer. The movie played one time only -- January 20 1970 (five months after Marciano died in a plane crash) -- to sold-out theaters around the country and in Europe. The idea was a spin-off of a popular series of "fantasy fights" that Worner produced for radio, in which two great boxing champions of different eras were matched via information fed into a computer. The fight would then be announced as if it were happening live, with an outcome according to the computer's analysis. The Ali/Marciano "fight" was filmmed in a North Miami gym in the summer of 1969. Ali was 27, Mariciano 45. Separate endings were filmed to keep the outcome a mystery. What an amazing film experiment. Convincing these two fighters to step into the ring together, now archived by this film, was a great accomplishment. The radio versions of these kind of fights obviously couldn't bring the fighters together since some had passed on and others were too old. But the Marciano/Ali fight works very well on screen (and, although the punches are pulled for the camera, they seem genuine). A one-time-only film, filling 1500 theaters in 1970 was also a tremendous accomplishment of movie marketing. Films, typically, did not play that many theaters back then. I wish there was this type of out-of-the-box thinking in Hollywood today.

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