Deal (2008)

An ex-poker player coaches a youngster and partners with him in big money tournaments, but in time they face off as rivals in the big-money tournament final.

Genre – Drama

Executive Producer – Walter Josten

Director(s) – Gil Cates Jr.

Writer(s) – Gil Cates Jr. and Mark Weinstock

Cast – Burt Reynolds, Bret Harrison, Shannon Elizabeth, Charles Durning, Jennifer Tilley

Blue Rider’s Role – Executive Producers and arranged P&A financing

Distributor(s) – MGM (US Theatrical), Seven Arts (Worldwide, All Media) and Dutch FilmWorks (Netherlands DVD)

Release Date – 2008

Release Dates:
Deal made its limited theatrical bow in the US on Apr. 25, 2008, and it came out on DVD on August 19, 2008. It was on Russian DVD on April 10, 2008, on German screens June 12 and on Icelandic DVD on July 31.

Boxoffice Data:
After 16 days in domestic release, it had grossed $61,626 in 51 U.S. theatres. It ranked #80 among movies then on American screens.

In Germany, it grossed $23,450 in 11 days, through June 22.

Poker Stars’ Kudos:
Vince Van Patten (host of The World Poker Tour): “Deal Captures the Poker tour like it is.”

Phil “The Unibomber” Laak” “This one is the real deal.”

Joseph Hachem (World Series of Poker 2005 winner): “Deal is the best poker movie since Rounders. It’s a must see for any poker fan.”

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari: “Deal is the authentic poker movie for anyone who loves the game.”

Critics’ Kudos:
John Anderson, Variety: “With the popularity of poker being what it is, every movie may eventually be moved to the card table: ‘Ante Mame.’ ‘Deck Tracy.’ ‘Flush Gordon.’ Sam Spade will make a huge comeback. Meanwhile, we have Deal, aka The Color of Money with cards instead of cue balls, replete with a battered Burt Reynolds as the sage vet and Bret Harrison as the brash young phenom. Public fascination with Texas Hold ’em and other poker variations will likely bolster B.O. Reynolds maintains his old gleam of mischief. His Tommy is cryptic and wise, impatient and usually right about how to play those cards. Production values are fine.”

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: “The poker sequences are the best thing about Deal. Burt Reynolds brings a certain gravitas to his role, and his stoicism at least allows us to accept him as Tommy. Shannon Elizabeth looks hot.”

J.R. Jones,Chicago Reader: “The main pleasure of this high-stakes-poker drama is watching a septuagenarian Burt Reynolds effortlessly revive his 70s screen persona as a strutting paragon of male shrewdness and sexuality. Writer-director Gil Cates Jr. also gives him a halfway interesting character to play, a former poker star who’s given up competition to keep his devoted wife but gets pulled back into the game mentoring a clever young college champ. There are cameo appearances by such TV poker stars as Vincent Van Patten, Antonio Esfandiari and Phil “the Unabomber” Laak.”

Elizabeth Leitch, “At least half of the movie consists of actual Texas Hold ’em games. Sitting across from our main characters at almost every table are many of the most recognizable names of real life Texas Hold ’em royalty. And taking cues from the increasingly popular televised tournaments on which it is based, Deal mixes the spectator’s view of the psychological battle at each table with the insider’s knowledge of the cards in every player’s hand, for a surprisingly strong level of suspense almost every time the cards fly.”

“Jarrod,” MatchFlick: “Burt Reynolds lends a touch of class to the proceedings, exuding screen presence that allows him to completely dwarf his co-stars.”

Viewers’ Ratings: 
As of Feb. 25, 2009, Deal earned positive ratings from 52.6% of the 1,818 people who evaluated it at the Internet Movie Database. The demographic groups that liked it best were people 17 and younger (giving it a 6.0 out of 10), followed by females 18-44 (5.4).

Cast and Crew Awards and Major Credits:
Directed by Gil Cates, Jr. (won Best Director and Best Documentary Phoenix Film Critics Awards for Life After Tomorrow; directed A Midsummer Night’s Rave, The Mesmerist, Screening and $pent).

Written by Gil Cates Jr. ($pent) and Marc Weinstock (debut).

Stars Burt Reynolds (Sharky’s Machine, Deliverance, Bean, The Dukes of Hazard, Striptease, 100 Rifles, Sam Whiskey, Driven, Smokey and the Bandit, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, City Heat, Citizen Ruth, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask, Hawk, Hooper, Semi-Tough and Mystery, Alaska; Oscar nominee for Boogie Nights; Emmy winner for Evening Shade; 23 other awards and 13 other noms for works including Starting Over, The Longest Yard and Dan August; 126 other films and TV projects); Bret Harrison (Orange County, Lightning Bug, Undressed, Home Security, 65 episodes of Grounded for Life, 17 episodes of The Loop and 15 episodes of Reaper) and Shannon Elizabeth (won 2001 Hollywood Film Festival Breakthrough Performance Award; nominated for MTV Movie Award for American Pie and a Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Love, Actually; appeared in Scary Movie, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, American Pie 2, Thir13en Ghosts, Cursed, Tomcats, Jack Frost, nine episodes of That ’70s Show, 13 episodes of Cuts and 27 other films and TV projects).

Cast includes: Maria Mason (Last Holiday, Vampire Bats, JFK, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and Stuck in the Suburbs); Gary Grubbs (JFK, Deja Vu, Ray, The X Files, Runaway Jury, The Astronaut’s Wife, All The King’s Men, Silkwood and 107 other films and TV projects); Caroline McKinley (Glory Road, Katherine, The Last Time, Elvis and Girl, Positive); Charles Durning (Oscar noms for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and To Be Or Not To Be; five Golden Globe noms, with a win for The Kennedys of Massachusetts; eight Emmy noms for works including Evening Shade, Death of a Salesman and Homicide: Life on the Street; won five awards and another nom for works including State and Main and Dog Day Afternoon; appeared in Scarface, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Sting, The Hudsucker Proxy, Tootsie, Dick Tracy, 24 episodes of Rescue Me, seven episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, 13 episodes of First Monday and 180 other films and TV projects); Brandon Olive (Won 2005 Best Performance Prize at the Foursite Film Festival for Thirst; appeared in Mr. Brooks, Factory Girl, The Shaggy Dog, Prom Night and A Guy Named Murphy); Jennifer Tilly (Oscar nom for Bullets Over Broadway; five awards and eight other noms for works including Liar Liar, Bound, Bride of Chucky, Intervention and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show; appeared in Monsters Inc, The Doors, Stuart Little, The Haunted Mansion, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Cat’s Meow, Saint Ralph, 16 episodes of Family Guy, 10 episodes of Key West, six episodes of Hill Street Blues and 76 other films and TV projects); Jon Eyez (Shooting Galler, Father of Lies), J.D. Evermore (Walk the Line, Waiting, The Guardian, Where the Heart Is, The Rookie, The Great Debaters, Stop-Loss and 25 other films and TV projects) and professional poker players Chris Moneymaker, Michael Sexton, Vince Van Patten, Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Courtney Friel, Scott Lazar, Isabelle Mercier, Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer.

Executive Produers: Walter Josten (Emmy for The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie; produced Home of the Giants, O Jerusalem, The Groomsman, Wake of Death, My 5 Wives and 32 other films); Jeff Geoffray (Rescue Dawn, Behind the Red Door, Then She Found Me, Silver Wolf, Around the World in 80 Days and 26 other films); Michael Amato (Dead Man’s Curve, Supercross, Popstar, Humanoids from the Deep, Tommorow By Midnight and Alien Avengers); Richard Gabai (Supercross, Midnight Tease II, Virgin High, Assault of the Party Nerds, Hot Under the Collar and Blood Nasty); Nzinga Garvey (Miracle Dogs Too, Popstar, American Black Beauty, Supercross and Red Riding Hood) and Scott Lazar (debut).

Producers: Michael Arata (Shooting Gallery, The Coundrel’s Wife, Shalom Y’all and The People’s Story); Steve Austin (Supercross, Miracle Dogs, The Santa Trap, Death of a Saleswoman and Red Riding Hood); Albert J. Salzer (The Dukes of Hazzard, Clara’s Heart, Prince of Bel Air, Shattered Innocence, Night of Bloody Horror) and Marc Weinstock (Search for the Mothman).

Original Music by Peter Rafelson (Dorm Daze 2, A midsummer Night’s Rave, Boys Life 3, Camera, Always).

Cinematography by Tom Harting (Won 2005 Best Cinematography Award at Atlantic Film Festival for 3 Needles; nominated for 2007 Gemini Award for In God’s Country; shot Ripper, Defying Gravity, Beefcake, Life After Tomorrow, Ripper and The Prince and the Surfer).

Film Editing by Jonathan Cates (Bridges, Telling You, Lyiing in Wait, Higher Ed; worked on Happy Gilmore, Star Trek Generations and Hudson Hawk) and Eric Strand (Donnie Darko, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lethal Weapon 4, Grind, The Shooting Gallery, The Forbidden Kingdom and Borderland).

Production Design by Frank Zito (production designer on Shooting Gallery, Tresspassing, Home of Phobia and We’re Off to See the Munchkins; art director on The Last Time, Waiting and Infidelity).

Deal listing at The Internet Movie Database

Official Site (MGM)

Trailer (in two formats)

Behind the Scenes Video on Poker with Deal stars and Poker Pros