In 1971, at the desegregated T. C. Williams High School, a black head coach, Herman Boone, is hired to lead the school's football team. Boone is assigned to the coaching team under current coach Bill Yoast, nominated for the Virginia High School Hall of Fame. But, in an attempt to placate rising racial tensions and the fact that all other high schools are "white" only, Boone is assigned the head coach job. At first, he refuses as he thinks it is extremely unfair to Yoast, but accepts when he sees what it means to the black community. Yoast is then offered an assistant coach's job by the school board and initially refuses, but reconsiders after the white players pledge to boycott the team if he does not participate. Dismayed at the prospect of the students losing their chances at scholarships, Yoast changes his mind and takes up the position of defensive coordinator under Boone.
The black students have a meeting in the gymnasium in auditioning to play for the team until Boone arrives, but the meeting turns into a fiasco when Yoast and white students interrupt. On August 15, 1971, the players gather and journey to Gettysburg College, where their training camp takes place. As their days of training camp progress, black and white football team members frequently clash in racially motivated conflicts, including some between captains Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell. But after forceful coaching and rigorous athletic training by Boone, which includes an early morning run to the Gettysburg cemetery, and a motivational speech, the team achieves racial harmony and success. After returning from football camp, Boone is told by a member of the school board that if he loses even a single game, he will be dismissed. Subsequently, the Titans go through the season undefeated while battling racial prejudice, before slowly gaining support from the community. Gerry even has his best friend Ray removed from the team because of his racism, following a game where he intentionally missed a block that led to the near-season-ending injury of starting quarterback Jerry "Rev" Harris.
Just before the state semi-finals, Yoast is told by the chairman of the school board that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame after the Titans lose one game, implying he wants Boone to be dismissed over his race. During the game, it becomes apparent that the referees are biased against the Titans. Upon seeing the chairman and other board members in the audience looking on with satisfaction, Yoast realizes they've rigged the game and warns the head official that he will go to the press and expose the scandal unless the game is officiated fairly. The Titans nonetheless win and advance to the state championship, but Yoast is told by the chairman that his actions have resulted in his loss of candidacy for Hall of Fame induction.
While celebrating the victory, Bertier is severely injured in an car accident with a truck after driving through an intersection. Although Bertier is unable to play due to being paralyzed from the waist down, the team goes on to win the state championship. Bertier would remain a paraplegic for the rest of his life. Ten years later, Bertier dies in another automobile accident by a drunk driver, after winning the gold medal in shot put. Coaches and other former teammates reunite to attend his funeral.
In the epilogue, descriptions show about the players and coaches activities after the events in 1971.Denzel Washington as Coach Herman BooneWill Patton as assistant coach Bill YoastWood Harris as DE Julius CampbellRyan Hurst as LB Gerry BertierDonald Faison as RB/CB Petey JonesEthan Suplee as OL Louie LastikKip Pardue as QB Ronnie "Sunshine" BassCraig Kirkwood as QB Jerry "Rev" HarrisNicole Ari Parker as Carol Boone, Herman Boone's wife.Krysten Leigh Jones as Nicky Boone, Herman Boone's daughter.Inasia Brown as Karen Boone, Herman Boone's youngest daughter.Hayden Panettiere as Sheryl Yoast, Bill Yoast's 10-year-old daughter.Kate Bosworth as Emma Hoyt - Gerry's girlfriendEarl C. Poitier as OL Darryl "Blue" StantonRyan Gosling as Linebacker Alan BosleyGregory Alan Williams as Coach Paul "Doc" Hines, offensive line coachBrett Rice as Coach Herb Tyrell, special teams coachBurgess Jenkins as TE Ray BuddsDavid Jefferson Jr. as "Cook"
Filming locations for the motion picture included Atlanta, Georgia, including Henry Grady High School and Druid Hills High School which both filled in for T.C. Williams High School.
While this movie is based on a true story, it has strayed from the actual events that had occurred on many occasions to add new elements of teamwork, commitment, and friendship to the film.Boone may not be the coach that Washington portrays in the movie; in interviews, many former Titans football players said they believed his coaching strategies had no correlation to their success, and were indeed too harsh, causing some players to quit.The Titans had a solid football team for many years and most of their games were large victories. By the end of the 1971 football season they were ranked second in the nation, and nine out of thirteen games were shutouts.In the movie, Coach Boone states, "We are not like all the other schools in this conference, they're all white. They don't have to worry about race. We do." This is false as well; all the schools the Titans faced were integrated years before.While the team is at camp, it shows Coach Boone waking them up at three in the morning to go for a run. This did not occur; neither did his speech at Gettysburg. The team did go on a tour in Gettysburg, although it was not as dramatic as portrayed in the film.Sunshine (Ronnie) was far from being the only one with long hair at the time. Even Gerry (Ryan Hurst) had long hair. But in interviews Bass said "I'll say for the record my hair was never that long." He also says the kiss with Gerry never happened.The climax of the movie is the fictionalized 1971 AAA state championship football game between T. C. Williams and George C. Marshall High School. The dramatic license taken in the movie was to convert what was actually a mid-season match-up between T. C. Williams and Marshall into a made-for-Hollywood state championship. In reality, the Marshall game was the toughest game T. C. Williams played all year. As depicted in the movie, the real Titans won the Marshall game on a fourth down come-from-behind play at the very end of the game. The actual state championship (against Andrew Lewis High School of Salem) was a 27–0 blowout. Bertier's car accident took place AFTER the Championship game, on December 11, 1971. Bertier had been at a banquet honoring the players of the 1971, T.C. Williams Titans football team for their undefeated season. After the banquet, Bertier borrowed his mother's new 1971 Chevrolet Camaro. Bertier lost control of the Camaro and crashed. (The movie shows him getting broadsided). The cause of the accident was determined to be a mechanical failure in the motor mount of the engine. The film also omits the fact that Sheryl Yoast died in 1996 at the age of 34 and that she was not an only child as she had three sisters. Her oldest sister Bonnie was in college, her second oldest Angela went to a different high school, and her younger sister Deidre was only three years-old in 1971.
On September 19, 2000, the soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records. The film score was orchestrated by musician Trevor Rabin and features music composed by various artists. From the instrumental score, Rabin's track "Titans Spirit", was the only cue (of the 12 composed) added to the soundtrack. It is also the only piece of music on the soundtrack album not to have been previously released.
"Titans Spirit" was a seven-minute instrumental. It has been used on numerous sports telecasts, particularly those on NBC, which utilized the score during its closing credits for the Salt Lake 2002, Athens 2004, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010, London 2012, and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as with the final closing credits montage for their 12-year run with the NBA in 2002. The song was also played as veteran New York Mets players crossed home plate during the closing ceremonies at Shea Stadium, and as the New York Yankees were awarded their rings from their 2009 World Series championship. The New Jersey Devils also used this song during the jersey number retirement ceremonies for Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer, and Martin Brodeur.
It was also used during the 2008 Democratic National Convention to accompany the celebration and fireworks at Invesco Field after future president Barack Obama gave his nomination acceptance speech, and was also used immediately following his victory speech upon winning the 2008 Presidential Election.
Following its release in theaters, the Region 1 widescreen and Pan and scan edition of the motion picture was released on DVD in the United States on March 20, 2001. A Special Edition widescreen format of the film was released on March 20, 2001, along with a widescreen Director's cut on March 14, 2006.
A restored widescreen hi-definition Blu-ray version was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on September 4, 2007. Special features include backstage feature audio commentary with director Boaz Yakin, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and writer Gregory Allen Howard, feature audio commentary with real-life coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast, "Remember The Titans: An inspirational journey behind the scenes" hosted by Lynn Swann, "Denzel Becomes Boone," "Beating The Odds"; Deleted scenes; Movie Showcase and seamless menus.
Remember the Titans opened strongly at the U.S. box office, grossing $26,654,715 in its first weekend and staying within the top five for six weeks. It eventually went on to gross an estimated $115,654,751 in the U.S., and $136,706,683 worldwide.
Among mainstream critics in the U.S., Remember the Titans received generally positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 73% of 132 sampled critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 6.3 out of 10. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, the film received a score of 48 based on 32 reviews. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade.
Writing for The New York Times, A. O. Scott said that "aside from a handful of tense showdowns at the line of scrimmage, there's not much else to see — is washed in on the flood tide of a thousand violins." James Berardinelli writing for ReelViews, called the film "relentlessly manipulative and hopelessly predictable" but noted that it was "a notch above the average entry in part because its social message (even if it is soft-peddled) creates a richer fabric than the usual cloth from which this kind of movie is cut." Describing some pitfalls, Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer said that "beneath its rah-rah rhetoric and pigskin proselytizing, it's no more provocative or thoughtful than a Hallmark Hall of Fame film or, for that matter, a Hallmark greeting card. Its heart is in the right place, but it has no soul." Wilonsky however was quick to admit "The film's intentions are noble, but its delivery is ham-fisted and pretentious; you can't deny the message, but you can loathe the messenger without feeling too guilty about it."
Todd McCarthy, writing in Variety, said, "As simplistic and drained of complexity as the picture is, it may well appeal to mainstream audiences as an 'if only it could be like this' fantasy, as well as on the elemental level of a boot camp training film, albeit a PG-rated one with all the cuss words removed." Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun-Times, viewed the film as "a parable about racial harmony, yoked to the formula of a sports movie," adding, "Victories over racism and victories over opposing teams alternate so quickly that sometimes we're not sure if we're cheering for tolerance or touchdowns. Real life is never this simple, but then that's what the movies are for".
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle wrote that the film reminds the viewer that "it's possible to make a sentimental drama that isn't sickening — and a sports movie that transcends cliches." Columnist Bob Grimm of the Sacramento News & Review, somewhat praised the film, writing, "The film is quite lightweight for the subject matter, but Washington and company make it watchable." Some detractors like Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Denzel Washington should have held out for a better script before he signed on to star in Remember the Titans, but you can see why he wanted to do the movie: He gets to play Martin Luther King Jr. and Vince Lombardi rolled into one nostalgically omnipotent tough-love saint." Jeff Vice of the Deseret News admitted that although the film contained dialogue that was "corny, clichéd, and downright cheesy at times," as well as how it relayed its message in one of the "most predictable, heavy-handed manners we've seen in a movie in years", the film "serves as a reminder of how much goodness there is inside people, just waiting for the right person to bring it out." He also viewed the casting as top-notch, saying that it helped to have a "rock-solid foundation in the form of leading-man Denzel Washington" at the helm.
The film was nominated and won several awards in 2000–2001.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated