Television Business International

Show of the Week: Class of ’92

The Premier League kicked off in the UK in 1992 and for football and sports fans it was a vintage year. A new feature doc captures the excitement of the time and the emergence of a crop of talented youngsters that were to define what went on to be the best, richest and most glamorous football league in the world.

That crop of fledgling stars all played for the Manchester United soccer club and included now global superstar David Beckham as well as Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Neville brothers.

The feature doc is being released theatrically and has been picked up by commercial channel ITV in the UK. Internationally, FremantleMedia is selling Class of ’92, which is produced by FremantleMedia’s Boundless alongside UK indie Fulwell 73 Productions.

“It was an amazing period in the history of football – the Premiership’s first year was 1992 – and these guys and Manchester United defined the first decade of the competition,” says acting FremantleMedia International CEO Bob McCourt.

With a raft of exclusive footage of the titular group of players and interviews with other Manchester United stars including Eric Cantona, the tone is “relaxed and insightful”, McCourt says. He notes: “There are also some laugh out loud moments with stories from the dressing room, Roy Keane and about Sir Alex Ferguson. You get key moments such as Beckham being sent off in the 1998 World Cup and Ryan Giggs’ amazing goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1999.”

The feature doc starts out in 1992 and tells the story of the players and Manchester United through to 1999 when Manchester United won the ‘Treble’ of the league, FA Cup and European Cup.

The project originally came about after producer Boundless met with Gary Neville, who is a soccer pundit and regular face on British television. Neville was the instigator of the film.

“Gary and the other players had decided they wanted a film to tell their story and spoke with a number of producers about making this film,” explains Boundless boss Patrick Holland. Boundless and Fulwell 73 were the final companies selected and we agreed to make the film as a coproduction. Holland adds: “Gabe and Ben Turner from Fulwell directed. I was the editorial executive producer. It has been a great working relationship and we are making plans for future collaborations.”

In terms of selling the film, the challenge for FremantleMedia is windowing the property since demand is expected to be high and FMI holds all rights outside the UK including theatrical – Universal has a holdback in the UK where the film launched theatrically on December 1.

 

The show: Class of ‘92

The producer: Boundless, Fulwell 73 Productions

The distributor: FremantleMedia International

The broadcaster: ITV (UK)

The concept: A cinematic documentary charting the rise of young six Manchester United footballers who turned around the club’s fortunes in the early 1990s