IMG and Mandalay Sports Media have entered into a joint venture which will see the two companies work together to develop, finance and produce a slate of sports-focused feature films. They are hoping to churn out at least ten feature films over the next three – five years from their active development slate, which will be distributed via streaming platforms and traditional theatrical release.
The first project under the deal will be The Art of Fielding which is based on the New York Times Bestseller and Amazon Book of the Year by Chad Harbach. Craig Johnson will direct from Tripper Clancy’s script. Johnson most recently directed Wilson, starring Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, and wrote and directed The Skeleton Twins starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Clancy’s credits include Henry the Second, which is set up at 3311 Productions with 21 Laps Entertainment producing, and he’s currently writing Hacker Camp for Hasbro.
The story for The Art of Fielding takes place at a small college on the shore of Lake Michigan where baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process, they forge new bonds and help each other find their true paths. (It sounds a bit like The Fifth Business from Robertston Davies).
MSM Co-Chairman Mike Tollin is producing alongside Carl Hampe and Catch and Release’s Tom Heller and Frank Hall Green. Staeger and Mike Antinoro will executive produce for IMG Films along with Bill Holderman. Tollin has a long history producing sports themed movies including Varsity Blues, Coach Carter, Radio, Hardball, Summer Catch and the Academy Award nominated documentary, Chasing the Dream.
IMG’s recent projects include Academy Award-shortlisted documentaries Gleason and Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next as well as Gonzaga: The March to Madness and UConn Huskies: The March to Madness for HBO Sports; Showtime at the Apollo on FOX; NFL Honors for CBS; the 2017 AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show for Twitter and The Tony Kornheiser Podcast.
May 5, MSM’s feature film, Chuck, starring Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Elisabeth Moss and Ron Perlman, will be released by IFC. Its NFL Network series, Undrafted was recently nominated for its second Emmy Award for best documentary series, and in June, Netflix will premiere the company’s feature documentary CounterPunch, which spotlights American boxing. MSM is currently in production on two films for ESPN’s 30 for 30 franchise, and has also partnered with filmmaker Frank Marshall to produce a five-episode, signature documentary series for the International Olympic Committee’s global digital platform, the Olympic Channel.
Johnson is repped by CAA. Harbach was repped in the deal by WME, on behalf of Chris Parris-Lamb at The Gernert Company. Clancy is repped by Verve, Good Fear and attorney Gregg Gellman.