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Series 7: The Contenders (2001)

A TV program selects people at random to kill one another for fame and their freedom.

Director:

Daniel Minahan

Writer:

Daniel Minahan
3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brooke Smith ... Dawn
Mark Woodbury Mark Woodbury ... Dairy Mart Clerk
Michael Kaycheck ... Tony
Marylouise Burke ... Connie
Richard Venture Richard Venture ... Franklin
Donna Hanover ... Sheila
Merritt Wever ... Lindsay
Glenn Fitzgerald ... Jeff
Angelina Phillips Angelina Phillips ... Doria
Tom Gilroy ... Dawn's Cameraman
Nada Despotovich Nada Despotovich ... Michelle
Stephen Michael Rinaldi Stephen Michael Rinaldi ... Craig
Alex Yershov Alex Yershov ... Nathan
Danton Stone ... Bob
Joe Barrett Joe Barrett ... Doctor
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Storyline

Ever seen the show "Survivor" and wished they would just start killing each other?? Series 7 literally gives its contestants the guns. The film is not merely a satire on reality TV. It is an example of just how far people will shamelessly go for fame. 6 contenders are pitted against each other in a no holds barred, kill or be killed contest. The reigning champ is Dawn, a hard-nosed, mother-to-be. We go back and forth between Dawn and the other 5 contenders to see if someone can dethrone Dawn and become the new Champion. What is the prize? How are the contestants picked? These questions are not as important as asking yourself how shameless has our society become? Written by Jeff Mellinger <jmell@uclink4.berkeley.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You Can Not Run. You Can Not Hide. You Can Not Refuse To Play. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violent content and language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sensational Productions

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 May 2001 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Series 7 See more »

Filming Locations:

Danbury, Connecticut, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$28,844, 4 March 2001

Gross USA:

$195,065

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$300,086
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Having seen her work in an off-Broadway production, director Daniel Minahan wrote the part of Dawn specifically for Brooke Smith. See more »

Goofs

The truck's tires are perfectly intact, despite during the helicopter shots sparks flying up and the commentator telling us his tires had blown out and he was riding on his rims. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: He is in intensive care following a self-inflicted knife wound to the back.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the title credits, a warning appears "Due to the graphic nature of this program, viewer discretion is advised." See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD version includes deleted scenes that are viewed seperately. They include:
  • The reunion with Dawn's family is extended.
  • A scene of Franklin refusing the radio/GPS rig and explaining why he lives in a lead-lined shack.
  • A scene where Franklin is looking in the mirror and mentally preparing himself before he receives the note.
  • Franklin's speech in the mall is extended.
  • A scene with Connie's priest, where he explains in an interview that he's a fan of the show, that he recognized Connie's voice in the confessional, and that he hopes that she confesses for the two murders before she herself dies.
  • 'Man-on-the-street' interviews.
  • The 'real' ending, which we are told in the film that the footage was destroyed and then are presented a dramatization of the events. The 'real' ending is, when presented with the choice of killing one another, Jeff and Dawn put the guns down, run out of the theatre, were they meet a crowd of disgruntled fans. The fans give chase after them and, after catching them entering their SUV, begin beating them, presumably to death. This explains why, at the end of the film, Doria is proclaiming that she's been framed and why Jeff survived.
  • An interview with Laura with Dawn's baby, where she renames the baby Dawn and says she's proud of her sister.
  • A PSA from Doria about checking for testicular cancer.
See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Fight to the Death Movies (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Will Tear Us Apart
Performed by Joy Division
Written by Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner (as Bernard Summer), Stephen Morris,
and Ian Curtis
Published by Zomba Music Publishers Ltd. and Fractured Music
(administered in US and Canada by Zomba Enterprises Inc. ASCAP)
Courtesy of London Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Reality TV just another circus
9 June 2001 | by Philby-3See all my reviews

`Reality TV' is founded on P T Barnum's famous dictum `Nobody went broke underestimating public taste.' `Series 7 – The Contenders' simply takes the idea to its extreme – a program where contestants hunt each other down, not in the wild, but in suburbia, the survivor being declared the winner (oddly, the only prize seems to be survival).

Obviously this is satire, and there are some genuinely funny moments, such as the parents of a teenage contestant urging their daughter on, as, armed with a rifle, she attempts to take care of an elderly opponent on a golf course. When the same girl, taking the gun into a shopping mall, is challenged by a security man, she says `its all right, I'm from The Contenders' and he lets her pass. The two main characters, Dawn (Brooke Smith) the champion from the last series and Jeffery (Glenn Fitzgerald), an opponent and former boyfriend, are sympathetically drawn. Dawn is pretty aggressive, but also eight months pregnant, and filled with emotion on returning to her home town. Jeffery, an artist, is suffering from testicular cancer, and though cared for by his devoted wife, wants to die. Needless to say, it becomes pretty hard for Dawn to pull the trigger on Jeffery when she gets the chance. The other contestants are not so sympathetically drawn, but they are by no means monsters, even if Connie the ER nurse with the deadly needle, goes to confession before stepping out to kill someone.

I formed the distinct impression that the contestants were not actually volunteers, being selected at random from something like the list of social security numbers. If that were the case, and I was selected, my first priority would be to wipe out the producers, not my fellow contestants. The Gladiators of ancient Rome were not volunteers of course, and perhaps that's the parallel the producers of the film seek to draw, or perhaps with the military draft for Vietnam.

Occasionally, reality TV makes good television, as in the case of the Australian `RPA' about the day to day workings of a large Sydney hospital. But the contrived ones, like `Survivor', `Boot Camp' and even the quiz show `The Weakest Link' depend on (vicarious) fear and humilation, not to mention voyeurism for their entertainment value. Freak shows such as `Springer' add loathing to the mix.

The director here (Daniel Minehan) does a good job of demonstrating just how nasty the premises are behind these sorts of shows but don't really sheet home the blame. I don't mind seeing a few of the high and mighty humiliated in public but I do object to ordinary mostly decent people being chewed up for entertainment purposes. Dawn and Jeffery deserve our sympathy, not our revulsion, a point the film makes reasonably well. It also illustrates that P T Barnum's dictum has lost none of its force.


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