Did you know that Michael Jordan earns $400 million a year and earns passive income from the interest he earns from selling Air Jordans? To understand how this happened, we have to go back to the 1980s and the famous sports shoe brand Nike in Ben Affleck’s latest film. Weather. Written by Alex Convery, the film stars Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Jason Bateman and Julius Tennon.
Sonny Vaccaro (Damon) likes to gamble – which means he likes to take risks. He works for Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck) in the company’s Basketball Division. He seeks out up and coming b-ball players and offers them shoe endorsement deals, and right now he has his eye on 18-year-old Michael Jordan. Sonny believes Jordan is worth their asking price ($250,000) and Vaccaro’s advisor Howard White (Tucker), but Knight and VP of marketing Robert Strasser (Bateman) feel obligated to do so. He tries to get a meeting with Jordan by talking to his agent David Falk (Messina), but the athlete is more interested in signing a contract with Adidas.
Unwilling to give up, Vaccaro steps up the chain of command and flies to North Carolina to speak with Jordan’s parents, Delores (Davis) and James (Tennon). With two shoe endorsement deals with Adidas and Converse, Sonny asks his mom to reconsider talking to Nike and warns him about what to expect when talking to these companies. While Nike CEO Falk and Strasser are breathing down their throats to close the deal or lose their jobs, Vaccaro uses smart maneuvers to protect the customer and stay in business.
In his fifth feature film, Affleck’s talents exceed expectations. He has grown as an actor and director, but is at his best when doing both. I’m not sure how he did it. The organization and patience needed to balance all these elements must be stressful, but I couldn’t tell because she never breaks a sweat. In the air, Affleck makes heavy use of aerial shots that show just how large some of these company campuses are. A key element of his visual style are desaturated scenes that use a mix of greens and blues that match the tone of his previous work, but he changes it up by upping the brightness and color, making the viewing experience more hopeful.
Weather It has the best cast featuring some of Hollywood’s greatest. They each give an award-worthy performance, it’s hard to pick a favorite, and even good acting all around is rare. I’ve seen two of Affleck’s performances at SXSW and you can just tell he’s passionate about a project and when he calls it. Convery’s script has all the elements to ignite the energy needed to make it happen.
Delores Jordan is responsible for her son’s career today. Despite Nike’s resistance, he was able to agree that Michael would receive a global percentage of every Air Jordan shoe sold. His position was that he knows his son’s worth and “A shoe is just a shoe… until my son comes in.” The goal was to create a shoe that reflected his personality and give fans something that would make them feel closer to the Chicago Bulls player.
Seer Weather, and how the world’s most famous sneaker came to be makes me think about the evolution of the shoe nearly 40 years later. People steal, kill and die for a pair. It’s crazy to think about this trajectory that started innocently and turned customers into rabid consumers. Of course, this isn’t Jordan’s problem, but this story puts things into perspective. With so many white men controlling his career, I’m glad to see some sort of on-screen advocacy for Mike and athletes like him, because this deal with Nike has monumentally changed the sneaker and basketball industry.