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HISTORY

Referring to the picture as The Gladiators, the 29 Aug 1990 DV announced that John G. Avildsen would be directing the project. According to the 21 Sep 1990 NYT, Avildsen, who won an Academy Award for directing Rocky (1976, see entry), was holding open casting auditions in several cities, and planned a Nov 1990 start date, with locations on the New Jersey waterfront. Two weeks later, however, the 8 Oct 1990 DV reported that Avildsen had dropped out of the project because of creative differences with producer Steve Roth. Rowdy Herrington was named as his replacement in the 17 Oct 1990 DV, which noted a Jan 1991 start date.
       A 30 Oct 1990 HR production chart referred to the picture as “The Boxing Project” and listed locations in Chicago, IL, and New York City. However, the 31 Oct 1990 DV reported that the pending International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union strikes in NY forced production to shift exclusively to Chicago.
       According to the 8 Dec 1990 Screen International, actors James Marshall and Cuba Gooding, Jr., were hired to co-star, and the title had been changed to Bare Knuckles. Although a 6 Nov 1990 HR production chart predicted a 15 Jan 1991 start date, the 8 Jan 1991 DV, which noted another name change to The Gladiator, reported that principal photography would begin on 21 Jan 1991, and this date was confirmed by production notes in AMPAS library files. The actors began physical training two-and-a-half months before the three-month shoot began. ... More Less

Referring to the picture as The Gladiators, the 29 Aug 1990 DV announced that John G. Avildsen would be directing the project. According to the 21 Sep 1990 NYT, Avildsen, who won an Academy Award for directing Rocky (1976, see entry), was holding open casting auditions in several cities, and planned a Nov 1990 start date, with locations on the New Jersey waterfront. Two weeks later, however, the 8 Oct 1990 DV reported that Avildsen had dropped out of the project because of creative differences with producer Steve Roth. Rowdy Herrington was named as his replacement in the 17 Oct 1990 DV, which noted a Jan 1991 start date.
       A 30 Oct 1990 HR production chart referred to the picture as “The Boxing Project” and listed locations in Chicago, IL, and New York City. However, the 31 Oct 1990 DV reported that the pending International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union strikes in NY forced production to shift exclusively to Chicago.
       According to the 8 Dec 1990 Screen International, actors James Marshall and Cuba Gooding, Jr., were hired to co-star, and the title had been changed to Bare Knuckles. Although a 6 Nov 1990 HR production chart predicted a 15 Jan 1991 start date, the 8 Jan 1991 DV, which noted another name change to The Gladiator, reported that principal photography would begin on 21 Jan 1991, and this date was confirmed by production notes in AMPAS library files. The actors began physical training two-and-a-half months before the three-month shoot began. The first day of filming was done on a freezing day at a basketball court across the street from Cregier High School in downtown Chicago. Crewmembers built a full-scale, functioning diner, which served as “Millie’s,” on Sixty-third Street under an “El” train stop. It was so authentic that locals “lined up for counter service,” unaware that they were on a film set. An aluminum recycling warehouse on Chicago’s Goose Island served as both the boxing arena set for the film’s six major fight sequence, and as production headquarters for cast and crew.
       A 29 Apr 1991 DV news item noted that production had ended.
       Writer Nicholas Kazan would not receive credit from the Writers Guild, despite doing extensive rewrites on the script, the 17 Feb 1992 Var reported.
       In a letter to LAT on 1 Mar 1992, Frank Price defended his decision to take a producing credit, which had been criticized in the 23 Feb 1992 LAT. Price claimed he acquired Gladiator for his company, Price Entertainment, Inc., in 1988, after it was abandoned by both Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures. However, when Price became chairman at Columbia in 1990, he was not allowed to take a producing credit on any picture. After leaving the studio, Price had his producer credit on Gladiator reinstated.
       The 6 Mar 1992 HR reported the film’s release at 1,300 theaters. As part of an “unusual marketing blitz,” Columbia promoted the picture nationally by offering film goers gift certificates for free audiocassettes of the film’s soundtrack.
       The 17 Mar 1992 LAT announced that, given the film’s $20--$25 million budget, its gross of only $5.9 million qualified it as a “flop.”
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: "Special Thanks to: The city and people of Chicago; Illinois Film Office - Al Cohn; Chicago Office of Film & Entertainment." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1990.
---
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1990.
---
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1990.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1990.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1991.
---
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1991.
---
Daily Variety
6 Mar 1992
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1992
p. 8, 56.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 1992
p. 1, 45.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Mar 1992
Calendar, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
1 Mar 1992
Calendar, pp. 25-26.
Los Angeles Times
17 Mar 1992
Calendar, p. 1, 9.
New York Times
21 Sep 1990.
---
New York Times
6 Mar 1992
p. 17.
Screen International
8 Dec 1990.
---
Variety
17 Feb 1992.
---
Variety
9 Mar 1992
pp. 54-55.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures presents
A Price Entertainment/Steve Roth production
A Film by Rowdy Herrington
A Columbia Pictures Release
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Elec best boy
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Video op
Musco light tech
Musco light tech
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Set des
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Exec mus prod
Mus cond by
Asst mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Prod mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley by
Foley by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Boxing coord
Scr supv
Asst unit prod mgr
Fighter's tech consultant
Strength trainer
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Herrington
Asst to Mr. Roth
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Unit pub
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Killer,” written by Seal & Adam Tinley, performed by Seal, courtesy of Sire Records/ZTT Records Ltd./Warner Music UK Ltd., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Gladiator,” written by Michael Berrin, Richard Lawson and Peter Nash, produced by Richie Rich for Double R Productions, Inc., performed by 3rd Bass, courtesy of Def Jam Recordings, Inc.
“Da Me La (Fama),” written by J. Batista, R. Blades, S. Campbell, S. Krywoschy, D. Ross, A. Rubalcava & D. Snyder, performed by Latin Science, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
+
SONGS
“Killer,” written by Seal & Adam Tinley, performed by Seal, courtesy of Sire Records/ZTT Records Ltd./Warner Music UK Ltd., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Gladiator,” written by Michael Berrin, Richard Lawson and Peter Nash, produced by Richie Rich for Double R Productions, Inc., performed by 3rd Bass, courtesy of Def Jam Recordings, Inc.
“Da Me La (Fama),” written by J. Batista, R. Blades, S. Campbell, S. Krywoschy, D. Ross, A. Rubalcava & D. Snyder, performed by Latin Science, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Welcome To The Real Life,” written by Sheryl Crow and Gary Bromham, produced by Full Force for Forceful Enterprises, Inc., performed by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, courtesy of Columbia Records
“Latin Till I Die (Oye Como Va),” written by Tito Puente, performed by Gerardo, courtesy of Interscope Records/East West Records America, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Mama Said Knock You Out,” written by Marlon Williams & James Todd Smith, performed by L.L. Cool J., courtesy of Def Jam/Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“For The Love Of Peace,” written by Timmy Thomas, Attrell Cordes, Rob Birch and Nick Hallam, produced and performed by P.M. Dawn, courtesy of Gee Street Records/Island Records
“The Power,” written by Jani Lane, produced by Erwin Musper, performed by Warrant, courtesy of Columbia Records
“I Will Survive,” written by Clif Magness and Steve Kipner, produced by Marc Tanner, co-produced by Phil Bonanno, performed by Cheap Trick, courtesy of Columbia Records
“Rico Suave,” written by Gerardo & Christian Warren, performed by Gerardo, courtesy of Interscope Records/East West Records America, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Hold On Tight,” written by Curtis Williams, Sean Devoreaux and Janet Cole, produced by Curtis Williams, performed by Tony Terry, courtesy of Platinum Vibe Productions, Inc. and Epic Records
“Count On Me,” written, produced, arranged and performed by Martin Page, courtesy of Mercury Records
“U Can't Touch This,” written by M.C. Hammer, Alonzo Miller & Rick James, performed by Hammer, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“We Will Rock You,” written by Brian May, produced by Erwin Musper, performed by Warrant, courtesy of Columbia Records
“Pride (In The Name Of Love),” written by Adam Clayton, Paul David Hewson, Laurence Mullen & David Evans, performed by Clivillés & Cole, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.
+
PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Gladiator
Tha Gladiators
Bare Knuckles
Release Date:
6 March 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 6 March 1992
New York opening: 6 March 1992
Production Date:
21 January--late April 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 March 1992
Copyright Number:
PA559908
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo SR™ in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
98
Length(in feet):
9,159
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31198
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Tommy Riley’s mother dies from cancer, his father, John, loses the family fortune on drinking and gambling, and they are forced to leave their wealthy suburban community of Bridgeport and move to Chicago, Illinois. At his new, inner-city high school, Tommy is harassed by gang members, and angers a classmate named “Spits” when he refuses to give up his seat. After school, Spits and his gang, the Storm Troopers, led by “Shortcut,” surround Tommy in the schoolyard. However, a rival gang member, Abraham “Lincoln” Haines, interrupts, and Shortcut pulls a knife. School guards break up the fight before it escalates. Later, Tommy is approached by two debt collectors who claim his father owes $1,250 to their boss, “Sharky.” At Millie’s diner, Tommy tells his classmate, Dawn, who works as a waitress, that he can only afford coffee, so she asks her mother, Millie, to hire Tommy as a dishwasher. As he begins work, Shortcut and two Storm Troopers follow him outside on a break and attack, but Tommy defends himself. The young men are interrupted by underground boxing promoter “Pappy Jack,” who warns Shortcut not to get hurt before his next fight. Inside the diner, Pappy Jack compliments Tommy on his fighting, and Tommy explains that he won a “Golden Gloves” amateur boxing championship back in Bridgeport. Pappy Jack tells him about Jimmy Horn’s weekly amateur bouts, and offers him $750 to fight a few rounds the following night. Tommy negotiates for $1,250, so he can repay his father’s debt. Later, Tommy’s father, John, tells him he got a job selling medical supplies, and will soon move them out of the “slums.” However, John must leave home for ... +


When Tommy Riley’s mother dies from cancer, his father, John, loses the family fortune on drinking and gambling, and they are forced to leave their wealthy suburban community of Bridgeport and move to Chicago, Illinois. At his new, inner-city high school, Tommy is harassed by gang members, and angers a classmate named “Spits” when he refuses to give up his seat. After school, Spits and his gang, the Storm Troopers, led by “Shortcut,” surround Tommy in the schoolyard. However, a rival gang member, Abraham “Lincoln” Haines, interrupts, and Shortcut pulls a knife. School guards break up the fight before it escalates. Later, Tommy is approached by two debt collectors who claim his father owes $1,250 to their boss, “Sharky.” At Millie’s diner, Tommy tells his classmate, Dawn, who works as a waitress, that he can only afford coffee, so she asks her mother, Millie, to hire Tommy as a dishwasher. As he begins work, Shortcut and two Storm Troopers follow him outside on a break and attack, but Tommy defends himself. The young men are interrupted by underground boxing promoter “Pappy Jack,” who warns Shortcut not to get hurt before his next fight. Inside the diner, Pappy Jack compliments Tommy on his fighting, and Tommy explains that he won a “Golden Gloves” amateur boxing championship back in Bridgeport. Pappy Jack tells him about Jimmy Horn’s weekly amateur bouts, and offers him $750 to fight a few rounds the following night. Tommy negotiates for $1,250, so he can repay his father’s debt. Later, Tommy’s father, John, tells him he got a job selling medical supplies, and will soon move them out of the “slums.” However, John must leave home for a month to attend a company training program, and Tommy assures him he can look after himself. When Tommy mentions the debt collectors, John reveals that he gambled to pay off his wife’s hospital bills. After apologizing to his son, John telephones “Sharky,” promising to repay his debt soon, and demands that he leave Tommy alone. The next night, Tommy arrives at the arena for the fight and meets his cornerman, Noah. When Pappy Jack gives him illegally lightweight gloves, Tommy realizes it is an unorthodox fight. He befriends classmate and fellow fighter, Romano Essadro, who gives him advice about his opponent, “Black Death.” As owner Jimmy Horn looks on, Tommy at first takes a beating, but revives and, with Noah cheering him on, knocks out both Black Death and the referee. Afterward, Tommy asks for his money, but Pappy Jack tells him to see Horn a few days later. Word spreads at school about Tommy’s win, but he denies it to Lincoln Haines. He later sees Lincoln training at the Windy City Boxing Club when he goes to collect his money from Jimmy Horn. Horn, who is a retired champion boxer, pays Tommy and asks him to be one of his regular fighters, but Tommy fears he will suffer brain damage. Horn feigns understanding, and bids Tommy farewell, but orders Pappy Jack to make sure the boy is recruited. Later, Romano encourages Tommy to accept the offer. When Tommy pays back his father’s debt, Pappy Jack witnesses the transaction and telephones Sharky. Later, Dawn waits on Tommy’s doorstep for him to return, and asks him about his fight. Tommy insists he will not be fighting anymore, but Pappy Jack arrives, orders him into his automobile, and takes him to see Horn. Horn claims that Tommy’s father was in debt to Sharky for $15,000, but he paid off the gangster, so now Tommy must repay the favor by becoming one of his fighters. Later, Tommy witnesses the Storm Troopers beating Lincoln, and comes to his defense. As they hide together in an abandoned building, Lincoln wonders aloud why Tommy rescued him. Lincoln reveals that he has an infant daughter, and illegal boxing matches are his only chance of getting them out of the ghetto. At the arena, Lincoln’s heavyweight opponent kicks him in the head, and the referee does not stop the fight. Tommy is outraged, but Lincoln throws a knockout punch, and wins the bout. Dawn asks Tommy why he has not been showing up at school or the diner, and gives him a college application from his teacher, Miss Higgins. Tommy tells Dawn about Horn’s blackmail, and that he is required to compete in four more bouts. He worries that Horn will kill his father if he refuses. Tommy beats several opponents at the arena, but his friend, Romano, is blinded when his opponent, Shortcut, puts a chemical on his glove and rubs it in Romano’s eye. Despite Tommy’s attempt to stop the fight, Romano is knocked unconscious. At school, Miss Higgins tries to encourage Tommy to go to college. He searches hospitals for Romano, and finds him several days later at a county hospital for the poor. Romano is hooked up to a breathing machine, and his face is disfigured. Tommy learns that his friend is brain-dead. At his next fight with Shortcut, Tommy knocks him out in the first round, but ignores Horn’s instructions to land a fatal blow. Afterward, he returns home and makes love to Dawn. At the gym, Lincoln collapses during training, and Noah believes he may have suffered brain damage after being kicked in the head during his last fight. The doctor agrees and “benches” Lincoln for sixty days. When Tommy arrives for his final fight, however, he is surprised to learn that Pappy Jack has switched his opponent at the last minute, and he will face Lincoln in the ring. Lincoln reveals that Horn promised to make him a professional fighter if he competes, and is offering a $20,000 reward. When Tommy refuses to fight, Lincoln begs him to participate, insisting it is his only chance to get ahead. Tommy tells Horn about Lincoln’s poor health, but Horn warns him against dropping out. Pappy Jack tells Tommy he could be the welterweight champion and earn over $2 million. Dawn arrives to watch, and Horn insists she sit next to him, which angers Tommy. During the fight, he avoids hitting Lincoln in the head, and tells him that Horn wants one of them to die in the ring, which will earn him a big payoff. Tommy orders Lincoln to knock him out, but Lincoln refuses. Furious, Jimmy Horn jumps into the ring to force Lincoln to fight. When the boy quits, Horn punches Lincoln, knocking him out of the ring. Tommy challenges Horn to fight: If Tommy wins, he will regain freedom, and if he loses, he will belong to Horn. Horn challenges him to a bare-knuckle fight, and taunts Tommy, dodging his punches. Tommy suffers a severe beating before Horn throws him over the ropes. Returning to the ring, Tommy pretends to have a broken hand, then surprises Horn with a knockout punch. As Horn collapses, Tommy wins his freedom. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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