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The prolific director’s next film will be the story of Sullenberger’s life and the dramatic tale of how the veteran pilot ditched U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January 2009, saving everyone on board. Eastwood, 85, will make the movie for Warner Bros., his longtime home studio, and is set to start shooting this fall (there’s no word yet on who will play the heroic pilot).
“I am very glad my story is in the hands of gifted storyteller and filmmaker Clint Eastwood, and veteran producers Allyn Stewart and Frank Marshall. The project could not have found a better home than Warner Bros. Pictures. This is truly a dream team,” Sullenberger, 64, said in a statement.
In addition to directing, Eastwood and Tim Moore will produce the “Miracle on the Hudson” via their Malpaso Productions, alongside Marshall and Stewart of Flashlight Films. Marshall and Stewart optioned the rights to Sullenberger’s life story and memoir, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, in 2010, but it wasn’t until now that the project landed at a Hollywood studio. (Harrison Ford, an aviation enthusiast and pilot, first introduced Sullenberger to Marshall.)
All of Hollywood had been waiting to see what Eastwood would direct following his global blockbuster American Sniper, also from Warners. Released in December, Sniper grossed north of $543 million globally to become the most successful war-themed film of all time. The biopic, starring Bradley Cooper as the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is also Eastwood’s most successful directing outing.
Eastwood’s involvement is a huge boost for the Sullenberger project. Todd Komarnicki is writing the adapted script, drawing from Sullenberger’s life and memoir. Sullenberger co-wrote his memoir with Jeffrey Zaslow, who died in a car crash in 2012. The announcement was made by Greg Silverman, Warner Bros.’ president of creative development and worldwide production.
Said Silverman in a statement: “Simply put, Clint Eastwood is at the top of his game, not to mention a global treasure. On the heels of his extraordinary work in American Sniper, it is tremendously exciting to see him explore the life of another captivating true-life hero. It is also great to be collaborating with Frank Marshall and Allyn Stewart to produce this compelling script by Todd Komarnicki.”
Sullenberger and his crew had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport when both engines were knocked out by a flock of Canada geese. The veteran pilot quickly realized there was no time to return to LaGuardia, or reach another airport, so he made the decision to attempt a water landing on the Hudson. The plan worked, and all 155 people on board survived. He instantaneously achieved hero status, and was dubbed “Captain Cool” by then-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Eastwood had been mulling directing Fox’s untitled Richard Jewell biopic, but a deal to bring Warners aboard as a partner failed to materialize. The movie stars Jonah Hill as the heroic security guard who helped save numerous lives during the bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Eastwood also decided against directing a remake of A Star is Born.
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