Last Gladiators hockey doc lands distribution knockout

The Last Gladiators

Just in time for the NHL lockout, Toronto-based distributor Phase 4 Films has acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights to The Last Gladiators, a documentary by Oscar winner Alex Gibney that focuses on violence in professional hockey.

The company plans to release the film theatrically in Canada in October with a U.S. theatrical run to come in 2013.

Gladiators, which was produced by Gibney’s New York-based Jigsaw Production in association with Dubuque, Iowa-based Northern Lights Hockey, received its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film focuses on the life and influential hockey career of legendary tough guy Chris Nilan, a right-winger who played between 1980 and 1992 for the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers and the 1986 Stanley Cup-winning Montreal Canadiens. His nickname was “Knuckles” for his fondness for dropping the gloves and pummeling opponents.

“I’m delighted that Phase 4 is releasing The Last Gladiators,  a story that revolves around the compelling character of Chris Nilan – a film I am enormously proud of,” Gibney said in a statement.

It was written and produced by Larry Weitzman, Jim Podhoretz and Gibney. Exec producers included Barry Reese, Donald “Dee” Rizzo, Michael Messner, George Gund and Robert J. Brooks

The deal was hammered out by Phase 4′s Larry Greenberg and Sam Posner with Josh Braun from Submarine and Anne Atkinson from Pryor Cashman representing the docmakers.

Gibney’s Iraq war doc Taxi to the Dark Side received the Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 2008.

Scene from film shown here.

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