From ‘La Bamba’ to ‘Little Man Tate’ child prodigies remain box-office top draws

What makes films on child prodigies tick? The precocious child prodigies for sure, if box-office takings at both Hollywood and Bollywood are any indication


Director Mira Nair’s biographical sports drama ‘Queen of Katwe’ is based on the life of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi.
Director Mira Nair’s biographical sports drama ‘Queen of Katwe’ is based on the life of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi.

New Delhi: Director Mira Nair’s biographical sports drama Queen of Katwe on Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi that opened in India last Friday has made about $4 million in the US since its September release. Here’s a look at 10 other films on child prodigies.

1. La Bamba (1987): The Luis Valdez directed film was a biographical take on the life and career of Richard Steven Valenzuela, a normal teenager who became a rock ‘n’ roll superstar under the stage name Ritchie Valens. The Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto and Elizabeth Peña-starrer grossed $54 million at the domestic box-office.

2. Little Man Tate (1991): Jodie Foster played single mother to a seven-year old child (Adam Hann-Byrd) whose extraordinary intellect largely isolated him from his social environment. Foster also made her directorial debut with the film that made $25 million in box-office collections.

3. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993): Steven Zaillian’s directorial debut was based on the life of prodigy chess player Joshua Waitzkin and adapted from the book of the same name by Joshua’s father Fred. Starring Max Pomeranc in the titular role, it made $7 million in domestic box office collections.

4. Fresh (1994): Relatively unnoticed by the public, the Boaz Yakin directed crime film told the story of a 12-year old kid who uses the chess lessons derived from his drunkard father to extricate his sister and himself from their miserable lives. The Sean Nelson-starrer made $8 million in box office collections.

5. Shine (1996): The Australian biographical drama was based on the life of pianist David Helfgott and directed by Scott Hicks. Starring Geoffrey Rush, Lynn Redgrave, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Noah Taylor, it earned $35 million at the domestic box office.

6. Finding Forrester (2000): The Gus Van Sant directed film featured Rob Brown as an African-American teenager who discovers an unusual talent for writing after befriending a reclusive writer played by Sean Connery. The film that starred Anna Paquin, F. Murray Abraham and Michael Pitt in supporting roles made $80 million in box-office collections.

7. Billy Elliot (2000): The Stephen Daldry directed film was the story of an 11-year old who breaks the negative stereotype of the male ballet dancer and was set during the 1984-85 coal miners’ strike in England. Starring Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis and Julie Walters, it made $109 million at the box office.

8. The Royal Tenenbaums ( 2001): The comedy drama directed by Wes Anderson followed the lives of three extraordinarily talented siblings struggling with family issues. Starring Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson, it made $ 71 million worldwide.

9. Akeelah and the Bee (2006): The Doug Atchison film told the story of a young girl from the black community in Los Angeles who emerges as a national spelling champ despite all odds. Starring Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, it earned $18 million at the box-office.

10. Budhia Singh- Born To Run (2016): Director Soumendra Padhi’s biographical sports drama told the story of the five year-old child who emerged as the world’s youngest marathon runner. Starring Manoj Bajpayee and Mayur Patole in lead roles, the film made about a crore at the box office.

All figures have been sourced from movie websites Box Office Mojo and Box Office India.

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