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Challengers - What We Know So Far

Luca Guadagnino — the director of the highly acclaimed 2017 romance "Call Me By Your Name" and of, more recently, the 2022 coming-of-age cannibalistic romance "Bones & All," both of which star Timothée Chalamet — is working on his next film: "Challengers," a romance set in the world of professional tennis. The upcoming movie was announced in February of 2022, as MGM landed the rights to Guadagnino's upcoming film (via Deadline). 

The screenplay for "Challengers" was written by Justin Kuritzkes, a first-time screenwriter whose previous producer credits include 2007's short film "Ticklish" (via IMDb). The film's producers will include Guadagnino, Amy Pascal & Rachel O'Connor of Pascal Pictures, and Zendaya (who is also starring in the film — more on that later).

If these initial details of "Challengers" have piqued your interest, read on to find out what else we know about the upcoming film — including a release date, cast, and plot.

What is the release date of Challengers?

For those who are already intrigued by the premise of the movie, we know when we can expect "Challengers" to show up at our local theaters. Per IMDb, the film is slated to be released in theaters this summer on August 11, 2023. We also know that filming has already wrapped on location, so post-production on the upcoming movie is well underway. 

Boston.com has reported that filming took place in the Boston area from April to late June of 2022 in Boston, MA. Before they could start filming "Challengers," however, Zendaya and her other co-stars needed to get some rigorous training in — in fact, they spent three months prepping to portray tennis stars.

Director Luca Guadagnino spoke about Zendaya's tennis training in an interview with Variety, declaring, "She's wonderful. I mean, wow. We edited the movie, and we almost actually don't use any of her double. She's so good."

Who is in the cast of Challengers?

As mentioned above, Zendaya is starring in "Challengers." The "Spider-Man" star will be joined by Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor in the co-leading roles.

Zendaya, for one, has been busy in recent years. Alongside starring as MJ in the recent Tom Holland "Spider-Man" films (most recently, 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home"), she has also been continuing her run as Rue Bennett in the popular HBO series "Euphoria" (via IMDb). Additionally, she starred as Chai in Denis Villeneuve's 2021 adaptation of "Dune" and will return for "Dune: Part Two," which will be released in November of 2023 (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Meanwhile, Faist had his breakout role playing Riff in Steven Spielberg's 2021 adaptation of "West Side Story" (via IMDb). Faist also recently starred in the 2021 Amazon Prime teen drama series "Panic." Finally, O'Connor gained widespread attention for portraying Prince Charles in Seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix's "The Crown," with the performance even earning him an Emmy win.

What is the plot of Challengers?

According to Deadline, "Challengers" follows Tashi (Zendaya), a former tennis player who has become a coach to her husband Art (Mike Faist). Through Tashi's arduous coaching, Art has become a world-famous Grand Slam champion. However, when Art suddenly starts to face a losing streak in competition, Tashi decides to make him play a "Challenger" event. This low-level tournament brings Art face to face with Patrick (Josh O'Connor), Art's former best friend, Tashi's former boyfriend, and his current circuit opponent. 

While speaking to IndieWire, Luca Guadagnino teased what moviegoers can expect from his movie "Challengers." The director said, "[It's] a fairly fizzy, sexy movie about the world of tennis." And when the interviewer asked Guadagnino if we can expect "Challengers" would have a queer storyline — as many of his films tend to have — Guadagnino gave them a vague but telling answer, responding, "It's me, so."