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Will Ferrell might star as Madden in the Madden movie

The movie follows the legendary coach and the creation of the football game that shares his name

John Madden Football (1988) cover art with Madden holding a football and bursting through a chalkboard Image: Electronic Arts

In a post-Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Last of Us world, video game adaptations are the next Hollywood gold rush, and studios are casting its net on all game genres in the hopes of striking it big. Next up: Madden, Amazon Studios’ take on the birth of the massive Madden NFL football video games.

According to Deadline, the film will be directed by Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle director David O. Russell, with Will Ferrell in talks to star as John Madden.

Much like Tetris, or even Air, Madden is reportedly setting its sights on the creation of the classic product at its center. Per screenwriter Cambron Clark’s logline, the film dramatizes John Madden’s pivot from a career as an NFL coach to becoming pro football’s first and most successful influencer — partially through the co-creation of the first realistic football video game ever, the summary indicates:

After being forced into retirement by the Oakland Raiders, fiery former NFL head coach John Madden teams up with a mild-mannered Harvard programmer to rewrite his fading legacy by building the world’s first football video game.

Based on this, the film looks like it’s focusing on a period of Madden’s life that’s a great fit for cinema, one that can potentially get at the heart of why John Madden was such a titanic figure for a generation that does not have his color commentary career in living memory. In calling games on television, Madden made football accessible to casual viewers in a way no one had before — until he did it again, in a video game.

With just Russell and Ferrell involved, the Madden movie has more awards season clout out of the gate than any previous video game-related movie project; Russell’s films in particular are regular nominees for Oscars in multiple categories, and Ferrell’s turns in more dramatic roles (like 2006’s Stranger Than Fiction) while rare, do garner awards-season attention.

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