HBO Sports has scored distribution rights to “The Day Sports Stood Still,” a feature documentary from Emmy-winning director Antoine Fuqua about the global shutdown of pro sports in wake of the coronavirus.
The film will be anchored by a first-person account from Chris Paul — the NBA All-Star and president of the NBA Players Association, who also serves as executive producer — and will chronicle shutdowns, athletes’ prominent role in the cultural reckoning on racial injustices that escalated during the pandemic and the complex return to competition in the summer and fall.
Brian Grazer and Justin Wilkes are producing the doc through Imagine Documentaries along with Fuqua Films, to debut in 2021 on HBO and streaming on HBO Max. Paul will produce through his Ohh Dip Productions in association with Waffle Iron Entertainment. Sara Bernstein and Marc Gilbar are executive producers.
“Last March when the NBA announced they were postponing the season, Chris Paul and I spoke and he said to me ‘we have to document this.’ Antoine was our next call and days later, we started filming. We knew this was a unique story, but no one could have predicted the emotional twists and turns that came with bringing the game back,” Grazer said. “It’s been an incredible journey and a point in history that none of us will forget.”
Fuqua added he was “thrilled to be working with Brian, Chris and HBO Sports on this special project. We are excited to chronicle the history making events that occurred in the sport’s world during these unprecedented times.”
Paul, the point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, was stopped mid-game on March 11 and sent directly into quarantine. He played a crucial role in helping to successfully re-open the NBA.
“It is an unbelievable opportunity to be able to work with Brian and Antoine to tell the collective story of the sports world over the last few months,” Paul said. “Brian had called me while I was still in the locker room that fateful night on March 11 and from there, we have been working to give the audience a deeper look into this momentous time in history.”
The project will also feature in-depth and emotional interviews largely conducted remotely, a broad swath of voices and experiences exploring how the pandemic pressed pause on careers, but also changed their lives in dramatic and surprising ways. The film features everyone from an NFL Super Bowl champion who volunteers in the ER, to a defending WNBA champ who decides to sit out the 2020 season to focus on protesting racial injustice.