Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO is closing a remake rights deal for Knuckle, the Ian Palmer-directed documentary at Sundance about two Irish families that settle a longstanding dispute by periodically engaging in bare knuckle bouts. Rough House Pictures partners Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green are attached, and HBO will turn the concept into a TV series, I hear. Numerous parties circled — word is they included companies of Gerard Butler, Robert Downey Jr., and Vin Diesel, but Rough House’s Matt Reilly came to Sundance and won by knockout. Rough House produces Eastbound & Down at HBO.

For two weeks, interest has been high for the remake rights of a film that debuted at Sundance last Friday. After bootlegs of an unfinished version began making the rounds, CAA pressed copies for the interested suitors. In the documentary that was produced by Rise Films’ Teddy Leifer, the fighters square off and beat each other to bloody pulps, the victor winning family pride and bragging rights. It’s not exactly clear why the families hate each other—hints are it has to do with a dispute over a woman—but the bouts are preceded by taunt-filled videos sent by one family to the other. The film took 12 years to shoot, and focuses on two brothers, James Quinn and Michael McDonagh.

Domestic distribution on the film is still being worked out. Content International bought international rights at the start of the festival.

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