NFL Films, the house production company for the National Football League, has long been considered the premier chronicler of the game and has the awards to prove it. Now the NFL, NFL Films, and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN have formed a triumvirate to collaborate on two original, made-for-TV-movies as part of a multi-year development agreement.
The joint effort is an unprecedented move for a professional sports league. NASCAR provided considerable assistance and access for the filming of the 1990 Tom Cruise pic "Days of Thunder," but this is the first time that a league has jumped into the production end.
The NFL and NFL Films are expected to receive branding in the opening credits of the films and the league will also have an advertising presence.
%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% "We're not sure yet what the language and the graphics will look like, but the movies will be made in association with each other," said an ESPN spokesman. "It's a partnership."
The first collaboration will be "The Ice Bowl," ESPN's third original movie (the first two were "The Junction Boys" and "Season on the Brink"). Currently in the development stage, "The Ice Bowl" will be a rendering of the Dec. 31, 1967 NFL Championship game, when the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers faced each other in sub-zero temperatures. The movie will premiere on ESPN on Saturday, Dec. 13 and will use actual footage shot by NFL Films.
The two sides declined to comment on what the second film will be, but indications are the extensive resources of NFL Films will again be used. NFL Films opened a $45 million production facility in Mount Laurel, N.J., last year, dubbed "Hollywood on the Delaware (River)." The building houses more than 100 million feet of film.