With the Cannes Film Festival kicking off today, there’s been much hustling and bustling in terms of shopping upcoming projects to studios.
One of the projects being shopped centers on a true incident that inspired Sylvester Stallone to write Rocky. In 1975, obscure boxer Charles “Chuck” Wepner went 15 rounds with then heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Now this moment in sports history is getting the big screen treatment in The Bleeder, taken from his nickname, the “Bayonne Bleeder.”
Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber and Christina Hendricks have all signed on to star. Jeff Feuerzeig, who won the directing prize for a Documentary at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival for his doc The Devil and Daniel Johnston, will transition to feature films with this boxing drama. Feuerzeig will also be co-writing the script with Jerry Stahl, who wrote Permanent Midnight, several memorable CSI episodes, and the upcoming Hemingway & Gellhorn starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen.
While it hasn’t been made official if Schreiber will be portraying the womanizing New Jersey heavyweight boxer, the signs are pointing that way. It will also be the actor’s second boxing-related film, having played a supporting character in The Hurricane.
If you read our “From the Shelf” feature on Rocky, writer Scott Sawitz briefly touches upon the importance of the Wepner/Ali fight and how it inspired struggling actor Sylvester Stallone. You can also watch the fight (in multiple parts) at YouTube.
What this means?: At this point, The Bleeder can go one of two ways. It will either be one of those boxing-related dramas that connects with viewers, like The Fighter, which was timed properly with a fall release, or it may suffer the fate of Cinderella Man, which didn’t do the Seabiscuit-like business that studio Universal was expecting.
Tags: Christina Hendricks, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts