Rather than focusing on the basketball star Michael Jordan, the upcoming movie Air tells the story of the Nike employees behind the famous sneaker deal.
- Nike has not always been the household name it is today, and it owes much of its success to an endorsement deal with rookie Michael Jordan.
- Originally, Nike offered Jordan $250,000 upfront, along with his own line of sneakers. Nike’s initial projects estimated that the company would sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans in four years. In the first year, it sold $126 million.
- However, the new movie Air, directed by Ben Affleck, does not focus on the athletic superstar or Nike’s CEO, but rather on the Nike employees who showed real grit to make the deal possible, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- The film also features Viola Davis playing Jordan’s mother, who did much of the negotiating on her son’s behalf.
Why it’s news
Depicting a business deal on screen does not sound like a hit movie on paper. It would be easy to focus the story on a well-known name like Michael Jordan or even center the story on Nike co-founder Phil Knight, but writer Alex Convery focused on the behind-the-scenes people whose work changed the sportswear industry.
The story focuses on Sonny Vaccaro, played by Matt Damon, who recruited Jordan; Peter Moore, played by Matthew Maher, who designed the Jumpman logo; and the future vice president of the Jordan brand Howard White, played by Chris Tucker.
Convery decided he did not want to focus the movie on Jordan because he did not want to write another biopic on a famous athlete. He felt a story centered around the “less romantic” parts of the story would be more compelling to audiences, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“To me, a lot of the movie is kind of exploring the idea of work and why we do what we do,” Convery says. “It’s morbid, but we’re all going to die anyway, why do we roll out of bed in the morning and try to do something? And for a moment in time, these schlubby Nike employees found a meaning.”
In 1980, Nike was struggling to compete with Converse and Adidas while trying to establish its basketball shoe line. After the success of Air Jordan, the company rocketed forward and today is worth more than $190 billion.
The film is available only in theaters starting April 5, 2023.