IFC Films has acquired U.S. rights to “The Bleeder,” a drama starring “Ray Donovan” star Liev Schreiber as gutsy and shoe-leather tough New Jersey boxer Chuck Wepner.
Philippe Falardeau directed the movie, which follows Wepner through the highs and lows of his career — including a bout where he went nearly the full 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali — plus his struggles with cocaine and infidelity. Wepner earned his nickname, the “Bayonne Bleeder,” for his ability to absorb punishment in the ring.
Maybe most notably, especially for Hollywood, Wepner was also the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone‘s iconic “Rocky” series. The former boxer sued Stallone in 2003, however, alleging that he profited off his life story and didn’t share any of the proceeds. Stallone and Wepner eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
“I am truly thrilled our film has found a home at IFC Films and Showtime. The team at IFC Films is pretty much leading the way in terms of effective and substantive theatrical releases right now,” Schreiber said in a statement. “As for Showtime, they’ve become family in the past 5 years so to have them be a part of this movie just feels right. Such a great outcome.”
Jeff Fuerzig and Jerry Stahl co-wrote the screenplay. Michael Cristofer and Schreiber produced the film along with Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Carl Hampe and Michael Tollin. Its executive producers are Avi Lerner, Mark Gill, John Thompson, Boaz Davidson and Jeff Rice. IFC will be the film’s U.S. distributor, and Showtime will be its pay-TV home.
Schreiber, who starred as Washington Post editor Marty Baron in last year’s Best Picture winner “Spotlight,” was most recently seen in January sci-fi thriller “The 5th Wave.”