The Phantom of the Open: everything you need to know

Prepare to salute a quintessentially British kind of underdog hero when The Phantom of the Open is released this March. In this sweet-natured and endearing story, a hapless no-hoper finds himself capable of inspiring the world (and, more importantly, his family) via sheer pluck and tenacity.

Scroll down to discover everything you need to know.


What is the story of The Phantom of the Open?

Amiable dockyard worker and chancer Maurice Flitcroft believes he has failed to reach his ambitions. So, when he sees the British Open Golf Championships broadcast on the TV, he's hit with a brainwave. Believing that luck and spirit will triumph over skill, Maurice applies to enter the prestigious event – and to the immense shock of his family, he gets in.

What then follows is a heartfelt story of following one's dream, regardless of one's talent, as Maurice upsets the establishment and crosses paths with noteworthy players including Seve Ballesteros.


Is The Phantom of the Open based on true events?

Yes, Maurice Flitcroft was a real person and, remarkably, he really did succeed in entering the 1976 British Open. After hitting a notoriously bad score of 121 in the qualifying competition, he was subsequently referred to as "the world's worst golfer."

His story is brought to the screen by Paddington writer Simon Farnaby who adapts his own 2010 book The Phantom of the Open, co-written by Scott Murray.


Who stars in The Phantom of the Open?

Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies; The BFG; Don't Look Up) plays the likeable Maurice, adding to his memorable roster of character turns on stage and screen. He's ably supported by Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) as Maurice's wife Jean while Notting Hill's Rhys Ifans plays a snooty member of the golfing establishment.


Who directs The Phantom of the Open?

The movie is directed by Craig Roberts who burst onto the screen as the neurotic teenager Oliver Tate in Richard Ayoade's Submarine. (Coincidentally, that movie co-starred Sally Hawkins, and she also appeared in the Roberts-directed Eternal Beauty.)


What have critics said about The Phantom of the Open?

"The Phantom of the Open is a rousing salute to a very English strain of nincompoopery - and a wise and witty reminder that the pleasure of doing something spectacularly badly can outstrip the satisfaction of a job well done," writes Robbie Collin in The Telegraph.

"Rylance digs deep to make this character thrillingly unpredictable," states Charlotte O'Sullivan for The Evening Standard. "Like Meryl Streep, who a few years ago played the enthusiastic but dire singer Florence Foster Jenkins, Rylance finds dignity in the most delusional of statements. It’s gorgeously acted and the slapstick made me cry with laughter."


When is The Phantom of the Open released in the UK?

The Phantom of the Open is released in the UK on 18th March. Cineworld Unlimited members get to see the movie in advance on 7th March.