EXCLUSIVE, updated with Liev Schreiber statement: IFC Films and Showtime are partnering on a deal to acquire The Bleeder, the Philippe Falardeau-directed drama that stars Liev Schreiber as New Jersey boxer Chuck Wepner, the Rocky inspiration who almost went the distance with Muhammad Ali (he knocked him down but appeared to step on his foot), only to find his life on the ropes when he went a few rounds with cocaine. Naomi Watts, Elisabeth Moss, Jim Gaffigan and Ron Perlman also star. UTA Independent Film Group brokered the deal with Nu Image, which is handling foreign rights.
Jeff Fuerzig, Jerry Stahl co-wrote the screenplay and Michael Cristofer and Schreiber produced with Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Carl Hampe and Michael Tollin. Avi Lerner, Mark Gill, John Thompson, Boaz Davidson and Jeff Rice are exec producers.
This one got competitive as the film got strong reviews and Netflix chased it hard, with a bid I hear was around $4.5 million for all unsold territories worldwide. That prodded Showtime to dig deep, because, after all, how could it watch a passion project of its Ray Donovan star go to a rival pay service? IFC paid $3 million for U.S. rights. Sony Pictures Classics and A24 were also in the mix.
“I am truly thrilled our film has found a home at IFC and Showtime,” Schreiber said in a statement. “Jonathan and Arianna are pretty much leading the way in terms of effective and substantive theatrical releases right now. As for Showtime, they’ve become family in the past fiveyears so to have them be a part of this movie just feels right. Such a great outcome.”