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Superhero turned soccer club owner Ryan Reynolds honored by Hollywood

From subversive superheroes to sports documentaries, Hollywood A-lister Ryan Reynolds said he is focused on exploring new forms of storytelling, as he received a prestigious film industry honor. The star of comic-book movies such as “Deadpool” and “Green Lantern” made headlines last year when he bought lowly Welsh soccer team Wrexham, along with fellow actor Rob McElhenney. Their takeover and the fifth-tier team’s subsequent bid for promotion was the subject of hit docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham,” the latest in a booming trend of behind-the-scenes sports documentaries.

Sport “is storytelling happening in real time. So I love applying that to Wrexham,” said Reynolds at a Beverly Hills gala Thursday. “I’ve fallen in love with not just Wrexham but the people of Wales. I knew I’d be entrenched in the town, I just didn’t know that it would go this deep this quickly.

“It’s been amazing. It’s been truly one of the great privileges of my life.” While “Welcome to Wrexham” is unusual because its stars and producers took ownership of the club-despite admitting to knowing almost nothing about soccer-sports documentaries more generally have soared in popularity in recent times. Netflix scored hits with basketball series “The Last Dance” and “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” while Amazon Prime’s popular “All Or Nothing” franchise offers fans glimpses of what goes on inside elite teams.

Chairwoman of Universal Pictures Donna Langley (left) and CEO of Blumhouse Productions Jason Blum pose with Blum’s 2022 Power of Cinema Award.

“We live in a world that moves incredibly fast. If you can move at the speed of what people are talking about, when they’re talking about it, you can move mountains-and sports is that,” said Reynolds. Reynolds last week told late-night host Jimmy Fallon he is interested in buying a much larger franchise-the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). Asked about the bid at Thursday’s gala, Reynolds teased: “We’ll see.”

‘Superheroes and horror’

Reynolds received the American Cinematheque Award, a “mid-career achievement” prize given to one star at the event each year. Previous honorees have included Al Pacino, Tom Cruise, and Steven Spielberg. The actor, who also has extensive business dealings including stakes in a gin brand and a cellphone company, is working on “Deadpool 3,” another installment in his smash-hit, R-rated movie series about a potty-mouthed superhero.

(From left to right) Eric Nebot, Mark Badagliacca, Honoree Jason Blum, Donna Langley, and Rick Nicita attend the 36th Annual American Cinematheque Awards at The Beverly Hilton.

“I think what made ‘Deadpool’ special and the reason I loved it is it subverts the genre,” he said. “When you can subvert a genre like that, particularly one that is as robust as the superhero genre, you jump at the chance.” Guests at the glitzy event included Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) who said Reynolds is “proving himself to be a really great all-around storyteller and producer as well as movie star.”

Actor and Wrexham co-owner McElhenney said Reynolds is “incredibly entrepreneurial” and “just looks at the world and business, and our particular business, in a completely different way.” Jason Blum, the leading horror producer behind hits such as “Get Out” and “Paranormal Activity,” was also honored with a Power of Cinema Award. Like superhero films, the horror genre has continued to thrive, drawing huge audiences to movie theaters in the age of streaming. “Superheroes and horror. We’ve got theaters covered!” joked Blum about his fellow honoree. – AFP

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