Superstar athletes from every discipline are currently filming a documentary about the devastating impact that coronavirus has had on sports, Variety can report exclusively.
The project was conceived by Chris Paul, a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the president of the NBA players union, and producer Brian Grazer. Titled “The Day That Sports Stood Still,” the feature is being directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Imagine Documentaries.
Paul, a longtime friend of Grazer, will lead a cast of famous subjects from every major international sport as they share tales of how coronavirus affected their teams and fans in real time. The project will also bring emotional reminders of why these top performers fell in love with their respective games.
Paul will also serve as a producer alongside Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment co-head Ron Howard, and Imagine Documentaries co-head Justin Wilkes. The doc has not yet attached a distributor.
While additional subjects were not immediately disclosed, filming is already underway with numerous all-stars, who are sharing their stories virtually from quarantine. Shooting will roll continuously, and hope to capture fans as well as players, “including their powerful and emotional returns to their stadiums, showing how sports can unite and inspire us when we need it most,” a synopsis said.
The idea was born from Paul’s personal conversations with Grazer about Oklahoma CIty’s March 10 game against the Utah Jazz. The following day, two Utah players tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA suspended its season indefinitely — creating a domino effect that touched all NCAA sports, baseball, hockey, golf, soccer and the Olympics as the pandemic escalated.
“Sports never stops. If you look back throughout history, the games always persisted through natural disasters, wars and acts of terror. They were always there for us to escape and feel normal during the most stressful and emotional of times,” the synopsis continues. The first-person accounts will also examine the unprecedented health crisis and its emotional and human toll.
Fuqua’s greatest hits include “Training Day,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Equalizer,” “Olympus Has Fallen,” and “Brooklyn’s Finest.” He’s also has a deep bench of nonfiction, including the Suge Knight documentary “American Dream/American Knightmare” and the blues tale “Lightning in a Bottle” from producer Martin Scorsese.
Most recently, he directed and executive produced the critically acclaimed “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” at HBO, which was a winner at the 2020 PGA Awards in the Outstanding Sports Program category and is nominated for an Emmy. He’ll next tackle the feature “Infinite” with Mark Wahlberg at Paramount.