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Film News Roundup: 1963 U.S. Naval Academy Football Team to Get Doc Treatment

In today’s film news roundup, a documentary about the 1963 Navy football team takes shape, “Never Heard” gets a release, Tim Tebow is backing “Run the Race,” “Death on the Nile” gets a 2020 release and Martin Scorsese is honored.

DOCUMENTARY SET

Michael Meredith, son of the late Dallas Cowboy quarterback Don Meredith, has signed on to direct “The President’s Team,” a documentary about the 1963 U.S. Naval Academy football team, Variety has learned exclusively.

The film, based on the 2009 book of the same title by Michael Connelly, follows the story of commitment and camaraderie among a team of young athletes attempting to revive a nation wrought with grief — 10 days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy, a Navy veteran, was scheduled to initiate the 1963 Army-Navy game with a coin toss. In the days following his assassination, with the status of the major event up in the air, the teams received the blessing of his widow Jackie Kennedy, who claimed her husband would have wanted the game to go on.

Navy, led by Roger Staubach, won the game 21-15. “The President’s Team” explores the subsequent life of the midshipmen teammates decades after.

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“Our team was made up of a great group of guys heading in the right direction, together, when there were a lot of distractions, socially, politically, and otherwise,” said retired Navy Admiral and team captain, Tom Lynch. “I’m honored to have Michael direct this story as I know he’ll bring forth a new, fresh perspective.”

ACQUISITIONS

Gravitas Ventures has acquired worldwide rights to the drama “Never Heard,” directed by Josh Webber and produced by Webber Films and Riveting Entertainment.

The film will premiere with exclusive cast interviews on more than 500 screens for a one-night event courtesy of Fathom Events on Nov. 1 and will be available on demand on Nov. 16.

The story involves a man accused of murder and incarcerated for a crime he swears he did not commit. His son is forced to grow up on the streets of Los Angeles without the guidance of a father and primarily raised by his mother. The cast includes Aaron Banner, Robin Givens and Romeo Miller.

“I think this movie will really resonate with many families worldwide,” Webber said. “In life we are constantly faced with choices and each choice you make has their own set of consequences. ‘Never Heard’ teaches us that sometimes we may make the wrong choice yet it is never too late to change your course and find the righteous path.”

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Roadside Attractions has picked up faith-based feature “Run the Race,” which was exec produced by Tim Tebow and his brother, Robby.

“Run the Race” will be released nationwide on Feb. 22. Roadside Attractions noted that it distributed 2018’s top-grossing faith-based movie “I Can Only Imagine.”

“I wanted to be part of something that’s encouraging and inspirational to the viewer,” Tebow said. “I believe ‘Run the Race’ accomplishes this by showing two brothers struggling with real life, but them getting through it by supporting each other and their faith. I hope those who see it can walk away with more faith, hope, and love.”

Tebow won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and played pro football with four teams. He’s currently a minor league baseball player.

The movie stars Mykelti Williamson as the boys’ coach, Frances Fisher as their surrogate, and Tanner Stine and Evan Hofer as the brothers. Supporting cast includes Kristoffer Polaha, Mario Van Peebles and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. The film is produced by Darren Moorman, Jake McEntire and Ken Carpenter; directed by Chris Dowling and co-written by McEntire, Dowling, and Jason Baumgardner.

RELEASE DATE

Fox has moved back the release date of “Death on the Nile,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer, nearly a year to Oct. 2, 2020. The film was originally scheduled for release Dec. 20, 2019.

The movie is a follow-up to last year’s “Murder on the Orient Express” with Branagh returning as director and reprising his role as the mustachioed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Production on “Death on the Nile” is expected to begin in mid-2019.

Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express” grossed more than $350 million worldwide. Agatha Christie first published “Death on the Nile” in 1937, three years after her “Murder on the Orient Express” was published. “Death on the Nile” places Poirot on a vacation in Egypt in the 1930s where he discovers a murder on the Nile River — the result of a love triangle gone bad.

The book was adapted into a 1978 movie with Peter Ustinov as Poirot along with Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, George Kennedy, Jane Birkin, Jack Warden, and David Niven. The movie earned $14 million. It won an Academy Award for best costume design.

Fox also shuffled release dates for three other titles with “The Kid Who Would Be King” moved from March 1, 2019 to Jan. 25, 2019; sci-fier “Ad Astra” moving from Jan. 11, 2019, to May 24, 2019; and the comedy “Stuber” moving from May 24, 2019, to July 12, 2019.

SCORSESE HONOR

The Museum of Modern Art’s 2018 Film Benefit will honor Martin Scorsese on Nov. 19 at the museum with a gala dinner and tribute.

Scorsese won the 2006 best director Oscar for “The Departed” and was nominated for “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” “Hugo” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” MoMA will also pay tribute to Scorsese with a series focusing on his New York films, running Oct. 30 through Nov. 7.

Rajendra Roy, chief curator of film at MoMA, said, “From his unextinguishable drive to innovate as a filmmaker to his passion for film history and his personal advocacy for film literacy, Martin Scorsese is cinema’s greatest hero. He is a universe unto himself, and all of us who are privileged to work in his orbit are nurtured by his considerable force. He is a loyal and dear part of The Museum of Modern Art family, and we are happy to welcome him home once again.”

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