EXCLUSIVE: While Hollywood will be in a heavy rotation of Oscar screeners, another in-demand picture for weekend viewing will be Knuckle. That is a documentary that won’t premiere until January 21 in competition at Sundance, but has created a heightened advanced interest for remake rights to a film being described as Fight Club meets Sons of Anarchy. The Ian Palmer-directed doc chronicles an enduring violent feud between two rival families in Ireland that periodically leads to a bare-knuckle bout with a member of each family. The fighters square off and beat each other to bloody pulps, the victor winning family pride and bragging rights. It’s not exactly clear why the families hate each other—hints are it has to do with a dispute over a woman—but the bouts are preceded by taunt-filled videos sent by one family to the other. The film took 12 years to shoot, and focuses on two brothers, James Quinn and Michael McDonagh. CAA, which is selling distribution, held a screening Wednesday for talent clients that had asked to see it. Suddenly, everyone wanted it, intrigued with turning it into a drama that’s an allegory for any number of geopolitical clashes between countries based on disputes so old that current combatants can barely remember why they hate each other. Though the the reps’ phone sheets filled up with calls from studios, producers, actors and directors in both feature and TV, CAA planned to let the interest level peak going into Sundance. That changed when a bootleg of an unfinished version of the documentary began making the rounds. The agency is now pressing DVDs of Knuckle for potential buyers to watch this weekend. If there’s bidding, it will begin Monday. Documentary distribution deals sometimes include remake rights, but it is possible separate deals could be made. If the warring families cash in on remake life rights deals, perhaps that would settle their longstanding feud–or create a brand new reason to brawl.
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