Now more than ever America needs its heroes (no more Gordon Gekkos, please) and the Kennedy/Marshall Co. and Flashlight Films are more than happy to provide one for us: According to Variety, the companies have optioned the film rights to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s memoir about how he ditched U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.
As you’ll recall, Sullenberger was at the controls of the jet on Jan. 15, 2009, when birds flew into the engines, crippling the plane. In a scant 3 1/2 minutes, the captain acted decisively, landing the jet on the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 on board as the event was recorded by cameras and broadcast around the world.
Sullenberger, a pilot for more than four decades, wrote ‘Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters’ with Jeffrey Zaslow shortly after he was catapulted to fame. The memoir covers Sullenberger’s life and career prior to Flight 1549 as well as the momentous event — and its resulting celebrityhood. According to Variety, Sullenberger and his wife Lorrie will serve as consultants on the film, which could be a theatrical feature or a television movie.
It’s surprising that it’s taken this long — particularly when today’s media mentality of “ripped-from-the-headlines” turns virtually every event into a made-for-TV or direct-to-DVD movie — for Sullenberger’s story to come to Hollywood. Apparently, Sullenberger was not too keen on selling the rights to his memoir until he met Harrison Ford — a licensed pilot — at an aviation event. According to Variety, Sullenberger asked Ford’s advice, and he recommended friends Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy “as a go-to producing team.”
“It was my lucky day,” Variety quotes Marshall as saying. “Kathy and I have always been attracted to regular people in extraordinary situations. This guy is a true American hero. What I love about this story is that it’s positive at a time when everything is negative.”
The project now is being sent out to writers. No studio is yet attached.