Battle of the Year

Battle of the Year

Josh Peck, Josh Holloway and Laz Alonso in Screen Gems' BATTLE OF THE YEAR, a film directed by Benson Lee. Photo credit: Matt Kennedy. Copyright: © 2011 Screen Gems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Battle of the Year (2013)

Also Known As: Battle of the Year: The Dream Team

Opened: 09/20/2013 Wide

Loews Methuen ...09/20/2013 - 10/10/201321 days
AMC Empire 2509/20/2013 - 10/10/201321 days
AMC Deer Valley09/20/2013 - 10/03/201314 days
Columbia Park ...09/20/2013 - 10/03/201314 days
Showcase Lowell09/20/2013 - 10/03/201314 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Facebook

Genre: Music/Dance Film

Rated: PG-13 for language and some rude behavior.


Battle of the Year is the Olympics of break dancing, a tournament held every year that attracts all the best teams from around the world, but the Americans haven't won in fifteen years. Los Angeles Hip Hop mogul and former B-Boy Dante (Alonso) wants to put the country that started the Sport back on top. He enlists his hard-luck friend Blake (Holloway), who was a championship basketball coach, to coach his team. Armed with the theory that the right coach can make any team champions, they assemble a Dream Team of all the best b-boys across the country. With only three months until Battle of the Year, Blake has to use every tactic he knows to get twelve talented individuals to come together as a team if they're going to bring the Trophy back to America where it started. Inspired by the actual World championship held yearly in France.

About the Film

An all-star American dance crew competes against the most talented teams from across the globe for the most coveted title in hip hop culture in Battle of the Year, an explosive and inspiring dance movie from director Benson Lee. Inspired by Lee's award-winning documentary, Planet B-Boy, Battle of the Year showcases the exhilarating realm of competitive dancing with unprecedented depth and insight, as some of the world's most elite teams ignite the screen with an astonishing display of athleticism, power and grace, all in state-of-the-art 3-D.

Hip hop mogul Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) has created a billion-dollar business out of his b-boy past. Now he intends to reinvigorate America's reputation as the pre-eminent by creating an all-American dream team that can win the legendary Battle of the Year, hip hop's premier competition, in Montpellier, France.

Graham turns to his old friend and former crew mate Jason Blake (Josh Holloway) to coach the team. With help of his assistant coach Franklyn (Josh Peck) and choreographer Stacy (Caity Lotz), Blake struggles to transform 13 headstrong individualists into a disciplined, cohesive and polished crew to rival all comers.

But with the competition only weeks away, the internal rivalry between dancers Rooster (Chris Brown) and Do Knock (Jon Cruz) divides the group into bitter factions, as Blake struggles to overcome the despair and alcohol abuse that have enveloped him since the death of his wife and child in a tragic accident. If the dream team wants to bring the b-boy world championship back to American soil for the first time in 15 years, they will have to face down ferocious personal demons to succeed.

Battle of the Year stars Josh Holloway ("Lost," Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol), Laz Alonso (Avatar, Fast and Furious), Takers), Josh Peck ("Drake & Josh"; The Wackness), Caity Lotz ("Death Valley," "Mad Men") and Grammy®-winning recording artist Chris Brown (Stomp the Yard) as Rooster. The film also stars a crew of real life b-boys including Jon "Do Knock" Cruz, Jesse "Casper" Brown, Ivan "Flipz" Velez, Joshua Lee "Milky" Ayers, Richard "Lil Adonis" Maguire, David "Kid David" Shreibman, Sawandi Wilson, Anis Cheurfa, Steve Terada, Gil "Gillatine" Brace-Wessel, Sammy "SamO" Soto, Richie "Abstrak" Soto and Luis Rosado.

The film is directed by Benson Lee from a script inspired by his acclaimed documentary Planet B-Boy and written by Brin Hill (Won't Back Down) and Chris Parker (Mulan II). The producers of Battle of the Year are Beau Flynn (Red Dawn, Journey to the Center of the Earth), Tripp Vinson (The Number 23, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), and Amy Lo (Planet B-Boy, Dreaming Nicaragua). Executive producers are Glenn S. Gainor (Friends with Benefits, Easy A), William Packer (Think Like a Man, Takers and Rich and Tone Talauega. Director of photography is Michael Barrett (Texas Chain Saw 3-D, Ted). Editor is Peter S. Elliot (Iron Man 3, Think Like a Man). Production designer is Chris Cornwell (The Ideas of March, Footloose). Music supervisor is Pilar McCurry while original music is by Christopher Lennertz (Identity Thief, Thanks for Sharing). Costume designer is Soyon An ("American Idol," "So You Think You can Dance"). The film is choreographed by Dave Scott (Step Up 3-D, Stomp the Yard) and Rich and Tone Talauega (who have worked with Chris Brown, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez).

About the Production

B-boying is the innovative and athletic dance form that originated on the streets of New York City during the 1970s and became one of the four cornerstones of hip-hop culture, along with emceeing, graffiti and DJing. Dubbed "break dancing" by the media, b-boying achieved overwhelming visibility in popular culture. Its luster eventually faded in the U.S., even as it continued to flourish around the world, as director Lee Benson discovered in his award-winning 2007 documentary, Planet B-Boy. Today, the basic moves first developed over 30 years ago have evolved into a highly sophisticated and acrobatic form of dance that can be legitimately compared to top-flight Olympic gymnastics.

"The world of b-boying has become global," says Lee. "In Battle of the Year, which was inspired by my documentary, a coach is asked to put together a Dream team made up of the best b-boys in America with the sole mission of winning the Battle of the Year, which is like the World Cup of b-boying. More than 20 countries compete every year. The Dream team has a chance to bring the gold back home to America, where b-boying started, for the first time in 15 years."

Battle of the Year (or BOTY) is a real life event that takes place each year in France, attracting crews from around the world. "The competition has been going on for over 20 years," says producer Amy Lo, who also collaborated with Lee on his documentary. "It's a global event that attracts thousands of people. You can't imagine the energy."

Lo admits she knew nothing at all about b-boy culture before working on the documentary. "What drew me in were the kids' individual stories," she says. "Battle of the Year is a chance to explore that world further and share it with even more people. I appreciate the element of self-expression as well as the amazing physical feats, and my hope is that we inspire a new generation to explore this art form."

According to Lee, b-boying grew out of a need for young people in the Bronx to express themselves through dance. "Wherever it goes, it represents the disenfranchised, so it makes sense that it was adopted by so many different cultures. It gives an option to kids who don't have the opportunity to go to traditional dance schools."

Even before Lee and Lo completed Planet B-Boy, they recognized the potential to create a feature film that would reintroduce the b-boy dance phenomenon to the country in which it began. Finding the right framework for their movie was their first challenge. Producer Tripp Vinson of Vinson Films helped the pair develop the property into a feature film.

Vinson says he was peripherally aware of b-boying from its '80s heyday. "But Planet B-Boy was my real introduction to the culture. One of most compelling things about it is that the people and their stories engage the viewer at least as much as the dance. Their heart and warmth, as well as the struggles they go through to pursue their dream, sucked me in and I felt that it would make a great feature film."

Lee's documentary is an in-depth, insider's look at the international b-boy scene that stretches from Japan, France, Germany and South Korea back to the United States. Using it as a jumping off point, the filmmakers looked for an approach to set their film apart from typical dance movies. "Contemporary dance pictures tend to stick to a formula," says Lee. "Ballerina meets street dancer. He gives her flavor and she civilizes him. That storyline has been beaten to a pulp, so it was the last thing we wanted to do. We came up with the idea of turning this into a sports film, which seemed like a natural fit. It's about competition and the dancers are physically on par with elite athletes."

Elements of teamwork and redemption are woven throughout the story, says Lo. "It is a very American story, with a very diverse group of people with big egos learning to put them aside to achieve a common goal."

Although the storyline is strictly fictional, it is deeply infused with the spirit of the documentary, using elements of different dancers' experiences to craft a classic story. "A brilliant coach has fallen on hard times and a hip hop executive wants him to put together the best dance crew in the world," says Vinson. "The world of b-boying tends to be about the individual and the coach teaches them to become a team so that they can compete in the Battle of the Year."

The discipline of b-boying has evolved tremendously since the early days of breaking, making it a study in individualism. "The kids overseas have taken it and put their own stamps on it," Lo continues. "It feeds back into the U.S. on the Internet. All the b-boys study videos from events across the world and eventually that informs their own style. The cross-pollination is really fascinating."

Lee says that while his interest in b-boying is deep and passionate, he was never a real b-boy himself. "I have always been a huge fan. I was first exposed to b-boying when I saw Flashdance. Jennifer Biels is walking down the street and she runs into a group of b-boys. I'd never seen people dance like that before. There was a host of other movies that came out afterwards, like Beat Street and Breaking. I watched those as well and I was completely sucked in."

A decade later, Lee had finished his first film and was wondering what to do next. "I happened to see Flashdance on television. When I saw that scene, I started to wonder what happened to the b-boys. Through the Internet, I discovered this event called Battle of the Year and I became obsessed with it."

He learned that not only were the b-boys still around, they had gone international. "And they had evolved into these really powerful athletes, but no one seemed to know about it. Wherever in the world it has gone, b-boying has come to represent the disenfranchised or ignored, the people without resources or advantages."

He equates the art form with 1950s-era rock and roll. "It is was a purely American thing that came out of blues and shocked the world. Then it went around the globe and was reinterpreted by other cultures before coming back here. Hip hop has the power of rock. It represents youth. That's why it has proliferated worldwide."

And like rock and roll, you either have it or you don't, he believes. "The best b-boys are the ones who've dedicated their lives to it. They draw on their personal experiences for inspiration and ideas. One thing I find that the best have in common is that they don't feel they chose b-boying. They believe b-boying chose them."