NFL teams with Krantz, Shelton for narrative feature

Gridiron pic 'Week 14' to be shopped to distribs

Looking to parlay the popularity of football into a feature film, the NFL is teaming with Tony Krantz’s Flame Ventures to produce “Week 14,” a drama that Krantz (“Sports Night”) will produce and direct from a script by Ron Shelton (“Bull Durham”).

CAA is shopping the package, which studios are expected to bid on in the coming weeks, just as the National Football League season kicks off on Sept. 5. Sources tell Variety interest is already high. The plan is to head into production after the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.

Aimed to be a four-quadrant movie in the vein of “Crash,” pic will chronicle the last three weeks of the NFL’s regular season as seen through the eyes of fictional players, coaches and their significant others.

The script, which Shelton has completed, features interweaving storylines that sources familiar with the project describe as PG-13 content, since the NFL is very protective of its family-friendly brand. The league refused to license the use of its teams to Oliver Stone’s R-rated football drama “Any Given Sunday.”

One possible drawback for studio buyers is that football doesn’t hold the same international appeal as it does Stateside. “The Blind Side” grossed $255 million at the domestic box office but only $53 million overseas, while Disney’s NFL-sanctioned pigskin pic “Invincible” grossed $58 million in the U.S. and $673,000 abroad.

ESPN previously attempted to parlay the sport’s unrivaled popularity into success with scripted series, launching its ESPN Original Entertainment banner in 2003 with the drama “Playmakers,” which offered a controversial depiction of the off-field lives of a group of pro football players. The NFL was not involved in that project.

Shelton has been responsible for some of the most popular sports pics of the last two decades, though he has not previously penned a football movie. His past credits as a writer-director include “Bull Durham,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Tin Cup” and “Cobb.” He also wrote William Friedkin’s “Blue Chips” and directed the documentary “Jordan Rides the Bus” for ESPN’s “30-for-30” series.

Krantz, former prexy of Imagine TV, has been exec producer on numerous TV series, including Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” the J.J. Abrams/Matt Reeves teen drama “Felicity” and Fox’s long-running “24.” He recently directed Antonio Banderas pic “The Big Bang” and is also exec producing NBC’s “Dracula” series toplined by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

The NFL is repped by WME. Krantz is with CAA, Echo Lake Prods. and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, while Shelton is repped by Oasis Media Group.