6.6/10
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134 user 71 critic

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

On Disc

at Amazon

3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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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:

Are you game? 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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$171,478, 1 April 2001
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 Tony drives off with the baby in is a Ford Ranger (a mid-size truck). The stock footage of a chase from a helicopter shows a truck that is supposed to be Tony's, but is now a full-sized Chevy. Back in the close-ups, it's a Ford Ranger again. See more »

Quotes

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

Let Me Come Back
Written and Performed by Girls Against Boys
Published by Action Collar Music/BMI
Courtesy of Touch and Go Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Only A Matter of Time Until Actual Reality Shows Go This Far...
21 July 2006 | by dtbSee all my reviews

SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS is both a taut thriller and a deft satire on the outlandish lengths TV networks will go to in order to lure viewers. Set in the near future, SERIES 7 is cleverly constructed as a marathon of seventh-season episodes of "The Contenders," a hit reality show in which contestants are selected via state lotteries and given guns with which they're expected to hunt down and kill their fellow contestants (although they're free to use their own weapons and be inventive). The object: to stay alive. The prize: whoever remains alive after 3 Contenders seasons wins his/her freedom from the high-rated program/ordeal. The champ is Dawn Lagarto (Brooke Smith of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), a pregnant, troubled but essentially decent drifter. Trapped in the program for the past two seasons, Dawn's reluctantly willed herself into becoming a frighteningly efficient killing machine to keep herself and her unborn baby alive. For her third and final season, "The Contenders" sends Dawn to her hometown of Newbury, Connecticut. Her fellow contestants/adversaries include prim but ruthless ER nurse Connie (Marylouise Burke of MUST LOVE DOGS and A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION); teenage Lindsay, whose well-meaning but overbearing parents (Mom is played by Donna Hanover, TV personality and Rudy Giuliani's ex!) coach her for the show as if she were trying out for an athletic competition; unemployed asbestos-removal worker Tony, who's trying to use this cruel TV twist of fate to unite his family; crazed conspiracy theorist Franklin; and Jeff, an artist who's dying of testicular cancer -- and who also happens to be Dawn's high school sweetheart. The lingering flames of love and resentment between these two, and the reactions of Jeff's long-suffering wife, provide the film's most poignant and suspenseful moments, as well as one of its funniest: clips of the low-budget student film they made in high school, including every 1980s video cliché imaginable and Joy Division's technodirge "Love Will Tear Us Apart" on the soundtrack. SERIES 7's authentically television-like feel is augmented by its story being told entirely through such TV conventions as bumpers, interviews, voiceovers, cutaway footage, dramatic re-enactments of events by doubles, and exciting tag lines ("Real people...in real danger...in a fight for their lives!"). We even meet most of the characters as they're notified of their selection for "The Contenders" on-camera, as the show's masked, armed minions come to the new contestants' homes like sinister Publishers Clearing House representatives. These TV gimmicks create deliciously satirical overtones in and of themselves, and yet the movie's irony and gallows humor works precisely because it's all played absolutely straight, not with the "nudge nudge wink wink" air that too many recent thrillers have overdone in their attempts to be edgy and postmodern. But the film's brilliant craftsmanship wouldn't be nearly as effective without the power of the fine cast's performances, particularly Brooke Smith; her riveting performance makes Dawn the emotional center of SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS. That said, the film also chillingly portrays the way fear and self-preservation can turn even the most decent human being into a stone-cold killer. This sharp, smart, exhilarating thriller works on so many levels, and it's got one of the niftiest twist endings in ages, too! Somehow, I suspect it's only a matter of time before a real-life reality show figures out a way to go this far... :-)


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