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Digiplex theater chain kicks off football documentary

MoviesESPNFrontline LimitedGoogle Inc.Mike Ditka

A documentary about the topical issue of injuries to football players, "The United States of Football," hits cinemas nationwide Friday, thanks to an unusual partnership between a small theater chain and a film production-and-distribution company.

Digital Cinema Destinations Corp., the publicly traded Westfield, N.J., company that operates the Digiplex theater circuit, is distributing the documentary in selected theaters nationwide under a joint-venture deal with Nehst Media Enterprises.

Under the deal, Digiplex will show the film across its circuit, which includes 184 screens and 19 theaters nationwide, as well as those operated by Screenvision. Local screenings are scheduled to be held at the Landmark in Los Angeles and the Muvico in Thousand Oaks.

The company will also receive 50% of ancillary revenues from the film, the largest release to date for Digiplex, which has also distributed documentaries such as "Running the Sahara" and "Cut Poison Burn."

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"This feature, which is ultimately all about a topic every parent and thoughtful football fan needs to reflect on, is a milestone," for Digiplex, said Chief Executive and Chairman Bud Mayo. "With growing media attention on the subject, we hope the conversation continues to widen. If those entrusted with the kids who play can demonstrate to parents they can protect those players, we can save the sport so many of us love."

The documentary, which follows football fan and filmmaker Sean Pamphilon as he struggles with the question of whether he should let his son play football, probes football coaching and training from Pee Wees to the pros and looks at the steps that can be taken to protect players.

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Bob Costas, Mike Ditka and Kurt Warner are among those featured in the film, which was produced by SP Philms.

The documentary's release comes at a time of growing debate about whether football players are adequately protected from traumatic head injuries. "League of Denial," a two-hour documentary set to premiere in October, examines the head injuries of football players and the response to them by the National Football League.

The documentary was produced by the PBS series "Frontline" and ESPN's news magazine program "Outside the Lines," although ESPN has pulled its logo and credit from the film.

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