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McFarlandUSA5-meet

Walt Disney Studios has carved out something of a niche for themselves with the feel good sports movie. “Miracle,” “The Rookie,” “Secretariat,” and last year’s “Million Dollar Arm” have all done well for the mouse. What’s great about each of these movies is that while the ending might be foreseeable, but they’ve never been formulaic. That’s doubly true with “McFarland, USA.” It’s based on a real story and has a fantastic emotional core.

It’s also a return to the sports genre that has served Kevin Costner so well over the years. In “McFarland, USA” Costner plays a down on his luck high school gym teacher and coach who sees in his students real potential for a winning Cross-Country Team. Of course, a small team from Central Valley of California is a big underdog against the well established schools, but through grit and determination, they manage to win.

But that’s just the barest of plots to hang a film upon. It’s the layer and layer of rich story and character development that make McFarland a great movie.

Director Niki Caro (North country, Whale Rider) makes the most of the Central Valley scenery and uses a gentle hand to get the most from the actors as well. Kevin Costner could practically sleepwalk through a sports move these days, but he doesn’t here. His portrayal of coach White has range and realism. He’s flawed, but can and does, learn.

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We’re just one day away from the opening of “McFarland, USA” the first film of 2015 to really win your heart. Based on a true story of a Central Valley California town and a coach that sees potential in the legs, hearts and minds of the agricultural workers who are also students at his school.

Disney just shared this extended clip from the film. It comes at a moment when Coach Jim White needs to motivate his team of long distance runners for a big race.

If you aren’t already planning to see it, listen to what others are saying about it online, I think you’ll change your mind.

Disney has also commissioned acclaimed artist Fernando Reza to make a series of posters for McFarland, USA. See the whole collection below:

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In case you missed them, here are the most visited stories of the week on The Disney Blog.

We had two major construction updates last week.

A lot of news coming out of Walt Disney Studios too:

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The real-life story of how Coach Jim White saw the potential for long distance runners in the students of McFarland’s agricultural “picker” community is the fulcrum point of this feel-good movie. It led to many college scholarships and state championships for real life kids, but it never would have happened had the high school’s principal said no. That moment is captured in this ‘clip’ from Disney’s “McFarland, USA.”

The principal is a perfectly cast Valente Rodriguez. Since he’s left off the IMDB credits, I want to make sure he gets his due here.

Disney’s “McFarland, USA” comes to theaters February 20, 2015!

Full plot synopsis below:

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If there’s a strategy to propel Disney’s “McFarland, USA” to the top of the 2015 box office, it probably involves attracting Spanish-speaking viewers to theaters. Disney clearly identified this early on and has developed a partnership to make the movie available to as many native Spanish speakers as possible.

Walt Disney Studios has announced a collaboration with myLINGO, a smartphone app that allows moviegoers to experience a film in the language of their choice discreetly through personal headphones. For Disney’s upcoming release of “McFarland, USA,” moviegoers can enjoy the film in Spanish right along side their bilingual family and friends when the film hits theaters on February 20.

The myLINGO app uses the microphone on a moviegoer’s smartphone or other device to “listen” to the audio, once the movie has begun. The app, through a proprietary algorithm, then matches the unique audio signature to its precise place in the movie, and plays back the alternate language audio through headphones in perfect sync with the film. The audio file will only play if it hears the movie, and once the movie is over, the file self-deletes from the app.

“We are delighted to bring the magical world of Disney films to a broader group of Spanish-speaking viewers and multicultural families at select theatres with this new technology,” said Paul Holliman, Vice President, Strategic Planning at Walt Disney Studios. “myLINGO provides a rich and customized cinematic experience, where bilingual families and friends can share the same emotion, laughter and excitement together in a whole new way.”

The Spanish audio track for “McFarland, USA” will be offered for free via a promotional code throughout opening weekend February 20 – 22. Following the opening weekend, filmgoers can access the audio track for $1.99.

“The Walt Disney Company is one of the most iconic and respected companies in the world, and myLINGO is thrilled to be working together on such an important film about bringing people and communities together,” said Adam Polak, co-founder of myLINGO. Co-founder, Olenka Polak added, “myLINGO is dedicated to creating authentic and inclusive experiences that are accessible to all moviegoers no matter what language they speak.”

Full plot synopsis is below the jump: