Remember the Titans
”This is a different kind of film for Jerry Bruckheimer,” says Washington. ”I don’t think anything gets blown up, except maybe some egos.” Indeed, this debut offering from the producer’s low-budget Technical Black division eschews ballistic pyrotechnics in favor of the gridiron kind. It tells the story of two Alexandria, Va., high schools — one black, one white — undergoing forced integration in 1971. When they unite under one roof, the football team, the T.C. Williams High Titans, experiences tension as stubborn African American Herman Boone (Washington) is put in charge over white local coaching legend Bill Yoast (Patton, of Bruckheimer’s ”Armageddon ”and ”Gone in 60 Seconds”).
”All of us threw in parts of our salaries to get the movie made,” says Bruckheimer of the $20 million plus project, the first live action feature greenlit by Walt Disney Studios honcho Peter Schneider and director Yakin’s first film since the 1998 Renée Zellweger drama ”A Price Above Rubies.” The subject matter and eased workload, says Washington, were the main attractions. ”Coming off ‘The Hurricane’ and having to more or less carry that picture,” he says, ”it was good to be involved with something where the issues are dealt with — but with a lighter touch. It’s really about the kids learning how to become men and women. They had to do all the work — all I had to do was blow the whistle.”
For his part, Bruckheimer enjoyed overseeing a modestly budgeted project while simultaneously working on the expensive epic ”Pearl Harbor.” ”Old style filmmaking is also what ‘Pearl Harbor”s about,” he says. ”But ‘Titans”is a much more personal story.” GOOD SIGN Both coaches were on board to keep things authentic. And Bruckheimer, who’s used to grosses north of $100 million, says this ”slice of real life” might be ”the highest scoring picture I’ve ever had at a preview.” THEN AGAIN ”[Preview numbers] and $1.50 will get you on the subway,” says Washington.