The film, which will be released this autumn, boasts an all-star leading cast and looks set to follow in the footsteps of Guadagnino’s award-winning track record. In 2017, the filmmaker brought us Call Me By Your Name with Chalamet and earned himself a Best Picture nomination at that year's Oscars.
Since then, he’s remade 1977’s giallo horror Suspiria and reteamed with Chalamet for cannibal drama Bones And All, yet neither has managed to cause a critical splash quite as large as Call Me By Your Name.
Will Challengers change that? Here’s everything we know about Zendaya’s new film, including its release date, plot and casting details and more.
Challengers release date
After originally being slated for September 2023, Guadagnino’s film will now hit cinemas on on 26 April 2024. It will be first unveiled at Venice Film Festival on 30 August. No streaming date has been confirmed as of yet, but it will skip a theatrical release in France and launch straight to Prime Video.
Challengers has been billed as a sports-themed romantic comedy but if Guadagnino’s back catalogue — and its officially released stills — are anything to go by, we’re sure it’ll involve undertones of relationship drama, identity and sexual tension.
Dune and the MCU’s Spider-Man star Zendaya plays a former tennis star who has since turned her attention to coaching. As part of this new role, she’s managed to transform her new boyfriend into a professional player and pits him against her old flame — and his former best friend — for a “friendly” championship match.
According to the film’s official synopsis, Zendaya’s character does this “to jolt [her husband] out of his recent losing streak.”
As far as the plot goes, that’s all we currently know but Guadagnino has previously called the story “sexy and fun." Zendaya produced the project and reportedly trained for three months with former professional tennis player Brad Gilbert in order to get ready for the role.
Elsewhere, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor will once again reteam with his frequent movie-score collaborator Atticus Ross to create the film’s music, continuing a partnership Guadagnino first forged whilst making 2022’s Bones and All.
They’re the same duo behind the earworm soundtracks for films like The Social Network, Pixar’s Soul and HBO’s Watchmen TV series.
Zendaya appears centre court in Challengers, starring as Tashi Duncan, a professional tennis player who has moved on to coaching other players.
One of her star students is her husband Art Donaldson, played by Mike Faist, an actor you’ll likely recognise from Stephen Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story.
Rounding out the film’s three-star primary cast is Josh O’Connor as Patrick, Tashi’s old flame and Art’s ex-best-friend. O’Conner played a young Prince Charles in seasons three and four of The Crown.
While that’s it for the film’s main players, Guadagnino apparently hosted an open call for actors to play tennis players, extras and stand-ins during the film’s Boston shoot - so Zendaya, O’Conner and Faist won’t be the only faces we see in Challengers.
The first trailer for Challengers hit the Internet in June 2023 and gave us our first glimpse at Guadagnino’s new story, soundtracked by Rihanna's track S&M. In it, we see Tashi rise up the ranks of professional tennis before an injury forces her to pivot and focus her efforts behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, we watch a love-triangle brew between Tashi, Art and Patrick before shooting forward a few years to witness the new tournament at the heart of the movie. Watch the full trailer below.
Challengers will be released in cinemas 26 April, 2024.