MMA Film Adds Nolte, Heads For Production

March 9, 2009

MMAPayout.com has kept you abreast of the latest moves by Hollywood to cash in on the MMA craze, and another movie is headed for the silver screen. We have kept you informed on the status of the movie Warriors, mainly due to the MMA roots of the director Gavin O’Connor. O’ Connor was the producer for the widely acclaimed documentary on Mark Kerr, The Smashing Machine. Variety.com has the latest in casting on the film and notes that production should begin next month:

Lionsgate and director Gavin O’Connor have set Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Morrison to star in “Warrior,” a drama set in the world of mixed martial arts fighting. Production begins in April in Pittsburgh.

Nolte plays an ex-Vietnam vet boxer-turned-steel mill worker whose family was torn apart by his alcoholism; the now-sober and remorseful dad welcomes back his youngest son (Hardy) and trains him to compete in a mixed martial arts tournament. He and his older brother, played by Edgerton, are on a collision course in the ring.

MMA Movies Still Moving to Market

December 4, 2008

The mainstream has seen the first of a slew of MMA-themed movies, with Redbelt and Never Back Down both already hitting the big screen. The pipeline for additional projects looks to be in place as well, as we have written in the past about Gavin O’ Connor’s MMA-themed Warriors.

Another possible group looking for silver screen glory is looking to secure financing for an independent feature film called Tap Out. The budget is estimated at six million U.S. dollars ($6,000,000). Here is a a look at the project and possible actor attachments to the project:

The Synopsis:
The extreme and unforgiving sport of cage-fighting sets the stage for a long-standing bitter rivalry between cousins Bobby and Leo, until they are forced to come together as an MMA team to fight in a tournament that will ultimately save their family’s boxing gym.

Chris Evans and Kurt Russell have been approached for roles in the film. They also have a quite a few professional fighters attached already including former UFC champion turned fight commentator Bas Rutten. Over the past few years MMA has exploded. Pay per views have generated over 30 million per event, with their primary audiences being men 18 – 34 years old.

Brock Lesnar …Action Hero?

November 25, 2008

Pop Culture website The Deadbolt has an interesting take on a possible future avenue for newly crowned UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar:

The interesting thing about Brock Lesnar as a future action star if he gets bitten by the Hollywood acting bug is that he’d be following in the footsteps of a few of his most famous WWE adversaries who have already made movies – Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Goldberg, even Stone Cold who left a lasting impression with the big man in his final WWE bout. Now that Brock Lesnar has become a UFC Heavyweight champ after only four professional fights, he’s not going to be fighting forever. Since he’s 31, it’s doubtful we’ll see Lesnar hang around UFC until he’s 41. And like many who made it big inside the wrestling ring, he already has the acting skills from the WWE to make it in Hollywood. How far and to what degree is yet to play out.

The article mentions his predecessors in the WWE making inroads into Hollywood, but there is also the example of Randy Couture in MMA. While it is said that married couples have a seven year itch, Lesnar looks to have a 3 or 4 year itch, going from amateur wrestling to pro wrestling to football to MMA. One has to question how long for the MMA world he is. With all of the above said, an acting career for Brock would have to be seen as a longshot. His general disposition would not lend itself to acting, and he genuinely seems to be motivated in an athletic sense, something he wouldn’t get from acting.

More On Warriors MMA Movie

October 23, 2008

We mentioned the MMA movie Warriors by Gavin O’Connor earlier in the week and the director sat down with Premiere magazine to give a few more details about the project:

What is your next film?
I am [working on] a movie called Warriors. When I finished Pride and Glory, Toby [Emmerich] said, “What do you want to do next?” I told him the story and he said, “Done!” We made the deal. I wrote it for New Line. New Line imploded. I called up Toby and said, “Please let me leave. I don’t want my script inherited by Warner Brothers because I don’t know if it is the right place to make the movie, and I don’t even know if they want to make it.” So he let me leave. And I set it up with Lionsgate.

So what is Warriors about?
The movie is about two estranged brothers that haven’t seen each other in 14 years, and they come back together and they are both mixed martial arts fighters. One of them, when we meet him, is a schoolteacher who is married. He has three little girls. His wife had a heart transplant so he is massively in debt. He starts fighting in what is called “Smokers.” They [happen] all over the country. There are guys [fighting] in parking lots in cages, and you can walk away with a couple of thousand dollars. The other brother we discover is AWOL from the Marines, and he has been arrested in Mexico and thrown in prison. Being a gringo in a Mexican prison wasn’t very easy, so he had to defend himself. The guy is an animal and was kicking everyone’s ass, and he became known as the king of this prison. Some guy got him out, and he traveled all around Mexico fighting these underground fights. And he ends up leaving there and going to see his father. Fourteen years before, he and his mother had left while the other brother and the father stayed. The father was an alcoholic and an emotionally abusive man, a Vietnam vet, ex-Golden Gloves fighter who taught his kids how to fight at a very young age. And the kid, Tommy, goes back to see his dad. Tommy is drinking now and [is a] pill popper. He comes home, and his father is a thousand days sober and is living a very different life. The story is about healing and forgiveness. There is a tournament called “Sparta” for the heavy weight championship of the world of mixed martial arts. It is a $5 million purse, and it is a 16-man grand prix tournament. And these two brothers are on a collision course to fight each other for the heavy weight championship of the world. And everything about their relationship, their past and their future is dealt with by communicating through violence.

Another MMA Movie In Development

October 20, 2008

While the mainstream public was unimpressed with the recent MMA-based movies Never Back Down and Redbelt, based on box office receipts, there will be another such offering in 2009. Filmmaker Gavin O’ Connor is currently in pre-production in Pittsburgh, PA, preparing to move forward with a project entitled Warriors. O’ Connor’s most recent work was Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, which hits theaters this week.

MMA Fans may be familiar with the name Gavin O’ Connor, as he was the Executive Producer of the widely acclaimed film The Smashing Machine, which focused on the rise and fall of MMA star Mark Kerr. Smashing Machine is widely regarded as the finest film that focuses on the MMA world to date.

O’ Connor’s producing partner, his brother Greg, spoke about about the company’s decision not to work with the UFC on bringing the film to the big screen:

“It’s interesting, we’re not working with the UFC, we made a specific decision not to work with the UFC, only because our understanding is that they actually want more influence over what the content of the material is than we want to give them……..It does play very authentically in terms of the world and the fighters in the world, like Randy Couture and other people that are sort of embedded in the movie.”

The plot for the movie sounds oddly reminiscent of the relationship amongst the Shamrock family. Greg O’ Connor described the film, saying “It’s about two brothers who are fighters, who are estranged, and who have to, through the course of the story, find each other again and reconnect to a relationship with their father, who they’ve sort of also become estranged with.”

The movie looks to come to theaters some time in 2009.

Renzo Gracie Legacy Website Up

October 8, 2008

Renzo Gracie – Legacy, a feature documentary directed by Geth Aldous and based on MMA fighter Renzo Gracie, has put up its website and is now taking pre-orders for DVD’s of the Film.

Director Gethin Aldous discusses the origins of the documentary Renzo Gracie: Legacy with MMAPayout.com’s Andrew Falzon. The interview is available here.

The trailer can be viewed below:

Spike Orders 2-Hour Pilot from MGM, Executive Produced by Dana White

October 8, 2008

New York, NY, October 8, 2008 – Spike TV has ordered an untitled two-hour pilot based on the Irish Mob in Boston from MGM Television Entertainment (MGM), and will go into production late this fall with an option to go to series.  Emmy® and DGA award-winning director Walter Hill will serve as director of the pilot. Chris Bertolini (“The General’s Daughter,” Battle: Los Angeles) wrote the script.  The original drama is executive produced by Ultimate Fighting Championship® President Dana White and Tom Lynch and the Tom Lynch Company.

Scheduled to shoot on location in Boston, the story revolves around the explosive fallout that occurs when a Boston mob boss abruptly vacates his position and various rival factions face off in an epic battle to control the streets.

The production team also includes Gary Stephenson and Richard Bullock who will serve as producers.  Sheila Jaffe (“The Sopranos,” “Entourage”) will serve as casting director.

During the course of his remarkable career, Hill has been a writer, director and producer on projects ranging from classic westerns to action-packed thrillers and buddy comedies, all marked with his visceral style.  Hill most recently directed AMC’s critically-acclaimed and Emmy®-award winning miniseries “Broken Trail,” for which he won the Emmy Award® for producing and was nominated for Outstanding Directing For a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special. Hill won the DGA award for “Broken Trail,” and was honored with Emmy and DGA awards for his work on the pilot of the groundbreaking neo-western “Deadwood” for HBO.  Hill is represented by ICM.

This movie marks the first ever scripted project for White, who helms the world’s fastest growing sports organization, the UFC, and hosts Spike TV’s wildly popular series, “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Bill McGoldrick, senior vice president, development, is Spike TV’s executive in charge of production.  For MGM, production is being managed by Chris Ottinger, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Television Group.

Dana White, TV Producer

October 8, 2008

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that SpikeTV has signed up for a two-hour drama pilot to be executive produced by Dana White. The storyline will revolve around the Irish Mob, with the storyline being a “Boston mob boss vacates his position and rival factions face off in a battle to control the streets.” Shooting is to begin this Fall.

The pilot marks a further deepening of the relationship between the network and the UFC. True to his public image, the show will push the envelope on content, according to the Reporter:

White added that the project is a good fit for Spike. “I know who I’m catering to, and that’s 18- to 34-year-old males who are the ones watching Spike TV,” he said. “We’re going to push the limits on this show, like ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘The Shield’ — violence, sex, bad language. We’re going to see how big Spike’s balls are on this one.”

Dana is a fan of Vince McMahon’s work with the WWE, so hopefully Dana will learn from Vinces’s follies with the WBF, XFL, and ICO-PRO about what not to do when stepping outside of his core competence.

CAA Sports Signs St. Pierre

October 6, 2008

LOS ANGELES – October 6, 2008 – The Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC) welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has signed with CAA Sports, a division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency.  Best known for his breadth of skills, varied martial arts styles, and fast-paced, entertaining fights, St-Pierre is among the most popular fighters in the world and widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).  CAA Sports, in conjunction with St-Pierre’s manager Shari Spencer, will represent St-Pierre in his marketing and endorsement initiatives, and will utilize the agency’s vast resources and expertise in entertainment to create unique opportunities for the fighter across a wide variety of platforms, including movies, television, licensing, and digital media.

“Beyond being a fierce competitor and a tremendously skilled fighter, Georges St-Pierre’s class, integrity and humility also make him a terrific ambassador for the sport,” said Howard Nuchow, Co-head, CAA Sports.  “We look forward to creating opportunities for Georges that cross international borders and build upon his widespread appeal.”

“CAA Sports is the best talent agency in the world and an ideal partner to guide the professional growth of the world’s best fighter,” said Spencer.  “Georges’ appeal transcends the octagon and I am confident that together we can introduce Georges, and the entire sport of MMA, to a wider audience.”

“I’m very excited to be working with CAA,” added St-Pierre.  “They represent a lot of great athletes and I’m honored to be associated with them.”

St-Pierre began his MMA career in Universal Combat Challenge (now TKO Championship Fighting), one of Canada’s most prominent MMA promotions, on January 25, 2002. He built an undefeated record before receiving an invitation to fight in the UFC.  Since his UFC debut in 2004, St-Pierre has defeated many of the top fighters in his weight class, including long-time welterweight champion Matt Hughes, current lightweight champion BJ Penn, Karo Parisyan, Frank Trigg, and Sean Sherk.  He became the undisputed welterweight champion when he beat Matt Serra by TKO on April 19, 2008, in front of the largest live MMA audience in North American history.

About CAA SPORTS:

CAA Sports represents more than 400 of the world’s best athletes, coaches, on-air broadcasters, and sports personalities, including the five most recent NFL MVPs, the 2007 NHL MVP, the MVP of the 2007 NBA Finals, baseball’s 2007 National League Rookie of the Year, the two-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, and many of the world’s best tennis and soccer players.  Beyond traditional athlete representation, CAA Sports provides unique opportunities for clients off the field, in areas including licensing, endorsements, speaking, philanthropy, and video games. CAA Sports also works in the areas of broadcast rights, corporate marketing initiatives, and sports properties for sales/sponsorship opportunities, winning the highly-coveted global partnership with the New York Yankees to bring to market a major long-term corporate sponsorship for the new Yankee Stadium.  CAA Sports is a division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), an entertainment agency that represents the world’s most successful actors, directors, writers, producers and artists working in film, television, music, theatre, and video games, and provides a range of strategic marketing services to corporate clients.

Interview with Director of Renzo Gracie Legacy

September 25, 2008

Director Gethin Aldous discusses the origins of the documentary Renzo Gracie: Legacy with MMAPayout.com’s Andrew Falzon. The interview is available here.

The trailer can be viewed below:

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