Ready to release a Marvel movie (“Thor: Love & Thunder”), writing a “Star Wars” movie, acting in and overseeing HBO’s “Our Flag Means Death,” executive producing FX’s “What We Do In The Shadows,” and more that gets added all the time, Taika Waiti is hyper-busy. He’s so busy that he even directed a little indie movie that everyone has forgotten and has been sitting on the shelf for two years.
That movie, “Next Goal Wins,” a soccer movie starring Micheal Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss, Rhys Darby, Will Arnett, and more, is an adaptation of a documentary of the same name about a failed Samoan soccer team who was humiliated at the World Cup in 2001. The story is about that same team trying to qualify for the World Cup years later and the coach (Fassbender) enlisted to turn them into an elite fighting squad. In fact, to hear it from Waititi himself, in a conversation with Vanity Fair’s Little Gold Men awards podcast, the filmmaker nearly forgot about the movie himself.
“I was doing Thor, I was also editing my soccer movie that everyone forgot about— including myself,” Waititi said about “Next Goal Wins.” “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s right, I was making a soccer movie,’ and there was a year where I didn’t even watch that film and it just sat on ice.”
“It shot just before the pandemic,” he continued, “Like November 2019, and then… it’s been over two years. It’s never happened to me, it’s crazy. And it’s finished and it’s good! We’ve been testing it and people love the film.”
Asked if that meant if Waitti would have two films out in 2022, “Thor: Love And Thunder” and “Next Goal Wins,” the filmmaker just simply said, “Yeah.” This would make sense and is timely. “Next Goal Wins” footage was screened at CinemaCon in Europe recently, and apparently went over like gangbusters so don’t be surprised if Searchlight finally unveils the release date for this one later in the fall.
So, why did the film languish away “on ice” for a year? Waititi doesn’t get into it during the interview, but if you’ve been following the news, it’s fairly clear there were outside circumstances that made “Next Goal Wins” slightly problematic for a while. Before Will Arnett was involved in the feature, the soccer film had Armie Hammer in the cast. And as everyone is probably aware, Hammer was the subject of some truly horrific allegations over the last couple of years involving sexual misconduct. His role was recast and the scenes were reshot with Arnett.
Of course, there are probably other reasons why the feature seemingly sat around on the shelf for so long, but the Armie Hammer thing is the most glaring reason that has been made public. Regardless, hopefully, we see “Next Goal Wins” soon enough. You can never have too much Taika Waititi goodness.