ESPN Films Announces Upcoming 30 FOR 30 Documentaries
The award-winning ESPN Films group continues to produce some of the best sports storytelling content in the industry, announcing today several new projects that will debut over the next few months. 30 FOR 30 documentaries on Junior Seau, the Mike Tyson/Buster Douglas fight and Deion Sanders headline the new slate, with "The Last Days of Knight" making its television debut after premiering on ESPN+ in April. Additionally, a new 30 FOR 30 Short, "Sonic Break," will air in September, and 30 FOR 30 Podcasts will return for its fourth season in October.
"30 for 30 remains one of ESPN's most vital and interesting content brands," said Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president, content. "I am thrilled for its return this fall with so many compelling stories across ESPN's many platforms."
The next 30 FOR 30 documentary, "Seau," directed by Kirby Bradley, recaptures the GLORY days of NFL great Junior Seau while foreshadowing a tragedy that would rock the league. The film will debut exclusively on Thursday, Sept. 20, on ESPN+, the first-ever multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company's Direct-to-Consumer and International group and ESPN.
Seau was a legend long before he retired from the NFL -- surrounded by a passionate fan base, deep respect from his peers and a loving family, he experienced a unique sense of purpose that extended BEYOND the playing field. Despite appearing to have everything, his decision to end his own life at 43 remains both deeply disturbing and largely unexplained. This revealing account of the Hall of Famer's life and death seeks answers, exploring the remarkable path from an immigrant Samoan family to NFL stardom, and the many obstacles faced throughout two decades spent as an American football icon at the heart of a brutal and unforgiving game.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, 30 FOR 30 documentary "The Last Days of Knight," directed by Robert Abbott, will make its television debut on ESPN, after first premiering on ESPN+ in April with the launch of the service. "The Last Days of Knight" details the previously untold, behind-the-scenes story of CNN's investigation into why high school All-Americans were leaving the Indiana University men's basketball program under Coach Bob Knight, and the fallout that ensued after the story broke.
30 for 30 continues with "42 to 1" on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The film, co-directed by Ben Houser and Jeremy Schaap, chronicles one of the most famous upsets in sports history: Buster Douglas' shocking knockout of the then-undefeated Mike Tyson. Tyson was the most feared fighter of modern times. Douglas, meanwhile, was dismissed as a 42 to 1 underdog. No one thought he had the heart required of a champion. But at the Tokyo Dome on February 11, 1990, Douglas came to fight. Defying opinion, he proved to everyone that there was greatness in him. This is a film about how Douglas pulled off a victory that changed the course of sports history, channeling the absolute best version of himself, if only for one fight, when it mattered most and no one thought it was possible.
Another new feature-length 30 FOR 30 documentary, set to premiere Thursday, January 31, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN, takes a close look at an unbelievably eventful few days in the life of Deion Sanders, the two-sport athlete and NFL Hall of Famer whose love of the spotlight spawned the self-given nickname "Prime Time." No event encapsulates Deion's limitless abilities and unparalleled conviction like the 24 hours in October of 1992, when Sanders sandwiched a pro football game between a pair of postseason baseball games in two different cities, located one-thousand miles apart. The yet-to be-titled film is directed by Ken Rodgers ("The Two Bills," "Four Falls of Buffalo") and produced by NFL Films.
The next film in the 30 FOR 30 SHORTS series will be "Sonic Break," premiering Sunday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. The short, directed by Stevan Riley ("Listen to Me Marlon"), chronicles the unexpected fear and anxiety that Austrian DAREDEVIL Felix Baumgartner battled before attempting the impossible: jumping from a space capsule borne by a helium balloon into the frigid stratosphere 23 miles above the earth, and then traveling at a speed of 690 mph before parachuting safely to the ground. "Sonic Break" will be available for streaming on ESPN+ beginning October 14.
Additionally, 30 FOR 30 Podcasts will return for its fourth season on Tuesday, Oct. 16, with a new series of original audio documentaries. This fall's lineup will include stories on the making of Jose Canseco's controversial book, Juiced, Hideo Nomo and the arrival of Japanese baseball stars to the major leagues, the TV broadcast of the 2003 WORLD SERIES of Poker, and a protest at the 1972 New York City Marathon.
"ESPN Films is full steam ahead on developing and producing high-quality sports stories - long and short and on all platforms," said Libby Geist, ESPN Films vice president and executive producer. "We are looking ahead to a busy few years with big projects, including feature-length documentaries, shorts, and podcasts. It's important to us that we keep pushing ourselves and create the best possible experience by letting our projects match the format that best serves the story."
About ESPN Films
ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning 30 FOR 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary "O.J.: Made in America," has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 FOR 30 Shorts, NINE FOR IX and the SEC STORIED series. The entire 30 FOR 30 library is available for streaming on ESPN+.