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Rollerball (1975)

In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.


Norman Jewison


William Harrison (screenplay)

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
James Caan ... Jonathan E.
John Houseman ... Bartholomew
Maud Adams ... Ella
John Beck ... Moonpie
Moses Gunn ... Cletus
Pamela Hensley ... Mackie
Barbara Trentham ... Daphne
John Normington ... Executive
Shane Rimmer ... Rusty, Team Executive
Burt Kwouk ... Japanese Doctor
Nancy Bleier ... Girl in Library
Richard LeParmentier ... Bartholomew's Aide (as Rick LeParmentier)
Robert Ito ... Strategy Coach for Houston Team
Ralph Richardson ... Librarian


In a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries, the violent game of Rollerball is used to control the populace by demonstrating the futility of individuality. However, one player, Jonathan E., rises to the top, fights for his personal freedom, and threatens the corporate control. Written by Jeff Hansen <jmh@umich.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This movie will haunt your future ... because it's almost here! See more »


Action | Sci-Fi | Sport


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:






Release Date:

25 June 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Роллербол See more »

Filming Locations:

Frankfurt, Germany See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Algonquin See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This movie was remade in 2002. It starred Chris Klein as Jonathan Cross, and was directed by John McTiernan. The movie was panned by critics, and only made nineteen million dollars at the U.S. box-office. See more »


Plenty of times one of the Houston skaters wears a number 3 shirt. The number 3 shirt should always be worn by a biker. See more »


[first lines]
Pregame announcer: Good evening everyone! And welcome to Houston, the energy city, home of the defending Rollerball World Champions. This key international battle pits the divisional champions, visiting Madrid, against powerful Houston. - - And here they come to a standing ovation. On the track comes Houston! Houston, lead by captain Jonathan E, again their leading scorer this year.
See more »


Referenced in Seksmisja (1984) See more »


Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
(BWV 565) (uncredited)
Performed by Simon Preston
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Action Scenes Are Good But The Message Is Heavy Handed
7 August 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

In 2018 corporate capitalism has abolished war , sickness and poverty and the masses of the human race watch Rollerball a violent sport . The world's greatest star of the sport Jonathan E finds himself being manipulated by a global corporate company

Believe it or not after THE GODFATHER films were released it wasn't Pacino or DeNiro who was going to be the biggest star from the films but James Caan . As ridiculous as it may seem now you can understand that his manly , rugged all American physical features would be ready made for New Hollywood unlike the somewhat ethnic background of Pacino and DeNiro . As it turned those two Italian Americans became two of the greatest actors of their generation while Caan quickly disappeared in obscure forgotten films like FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and THE KILLER ELITE . This film by Norman Jewison ROLLERBALL was probably Caan's career highlight

ROLLERBALL is another dystopian science fiction film popular from the period where the future vision of humanity has seen the upside where war , illness and poverty has been eradicated . The downside is that with it individuality and democracy has effectively become a thing of the past too and world is ruled not by democratically elected governments but by corporate companies who control the population by giving them what they want but on the corporate terms

This is a persuasive idea and one that's not really exaggerated . George Orwell described sport as " War without the shooting " and as someone who grew up in the west of Scotland I can testify that most peoples obsession revolves around two football clubs Rangers and Celtic who attract a lot of sectarian pond life and there's a blackly comical joke that there's only six letters in the West of Scotland alphabet - IRA and UVF , so the idea of corporate companies controlling the masses wasn't a ridiculous idea when this film was made

The problem is that the message is a bit too heavy handed to be entirely credible . It's true that people belong to tribes and this never truer than where sport is concerned but you have to think why would a sport like Rollerball make headway in to Europe or South America where football or soccer as it is known in America be the world's most popular game . Likewise would Rollerball be popular in the third world like Africa or Asia or any failed state ? The more you think about the premise collapses that the concept of war and poverty has been abolished

Where the film works best is the scenes of the game itself . I'm not entirely sure what the rules of the game are but it's certainly an exciting sport that might best be described as " carnage porn " . Director Jewison tries hard to make the game scenes spontaneous via the use of editing and sound mix and probably tries a bit too hard to make it appear spontaneous but the action scenes are exciting and it's this that makes the film a success . Compare it to the wimpish remake from ten years ago to see what I mean

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