Devastating,” is how “Brooklyn’s Finest” helmer Antoine Fuqua describes the events following the pic’s debut at Sundance 2009.

The action-thriller, which made its Gotham premiere Tuesday, initially sold to Senator at the fest, but when the distrib wasn’t able to gather the P&A funds to release it last year, the title effectively became available again.

“I’ve never experienced that (situation) before,” Fuqua said at the pic’s Empire Hotel jam-packed after-party. “You put so much work into it and you trust somebody with that work, so when that happened, it felt like a punch in the gut. It was a scary time.”

Overture eventually stepped in and acquired the film, starring Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle, for around $2 million last September.

After chatting with co-star Ellen Barkin, Hawke revealed that it was his first time seeing the final cut of pic, which was considered a work in progress at Sundance.

“The bar is high for (Antoine and I),” the thesp, who stared in Fuqua’s 2001 film, “Training Day,” said. “I knew if we were going to do another movie together it had to be really good. We wanted to make a great double feature with ‘Training Day,’ and I think we have. If you watch these movies back to back you won’t sleep!”