Brett Ratner came to Winter TV Press Tour 2014 to talk about his ESPN soccer documentary and to remind TV critics the Hercules movie that just opened anemically at the box office is not his Dwayne Johnson-starring Hercules movie.
“I honestly feel ESPN is one of the greatest brands” enthused Ratner, who shared the stage with documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney and ESPN Films director of development Libby Geist.
Ratner said he’s been obsessed with the sports network’s 30 for 30 documentary franchise and had been trying to find a way to get involved when someone at his company hit on an idea. “One of my passions and one of the opportunities that I’ve never gotten is to make a film that has Nazis in them. All my contemporaries, from Quentin Tarantino to, you know, obviously Spielberg, and all these guys have made their Nazi film, and I haven’t been able to tackle it yet.”
Ratner is the director of 30 for 30’s docu, Mysteries of The Jules Rimet Trophy. The trophy, inspired by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, was awarded to the nation that won FIFA’s World Cup and was among the most coveted prizes in all of sports. It is also shrouded in mystery, with the whereabouts of the original trophy unknown to this day. Ratner’s film focuses on a Nazi plan to steal the Rimet Trophy from Italy during World War II.
“Hitler was obsessed with stealing it, and one man who worked for the Italian World Cup was able to hide this trophy from the Nazis,” Ratner explained. “The documentary, although historical, is more of a caper. It’s more of a, Indiana Jones or Munich, but, of course, it’s a documentary.”
Ratner shared the stage with noted documentary filmmaker Gibney, who’s directing another of the ESPN soccer docus. “It’s very exciting for me to be not only making one of these 30 for 30’s but to be sitting next to Alex Gibney, who I’m such a big fan of,” he said. “I can speak for both of us because of our passion for these films. I’m making another version, a Hercules movie that’s coming out in July — not the one that came out this weekend. And Alex is doing a four hour Frank Sinatra documentary which I can’t wait to see. So to do these short films is a great opportunity for myself, and I’m very, very excited to be doing it.”