After American Sniper became a stunning box office success for Warner Bros. early this year, the studio has set its director Clint Eastwood for another biopic. The prolific filmmaker will helm an untitled film that tells the true story of Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, the American pilot who heroically landed a filled plane in the Hudson River after it malfunctioned mid-flight.
Sullenberger became a national hero back in 2009 when he pulled off a tricky emergency landing in the Hudson River off Manhattan when his aircraft, climbing out of LaGuardia Airport, struck a flock of Canadian geese, disabling both engines. All passengers and crew members survived the landing.
Producer Frank Marshall acquired the rights to Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow’s book back in 2010 and has been developing the project ever since. Allyn Stewart is also attached to produce.
No stars have come into focus yet, but with Eastwood sitting behind the camera, this is immediately a high-profile biopic that Warner Bros. will be angling for awards consideration. The helmer has a successful track record beyond American Sniper with telling stories about remarkable Americans – he previously directed J. Edgar and Changeling.
Here’s the synopsis for Sullenberger’s book, titled Highest Duty:
On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed one of the most remarkable emergency landings in aviation history when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the surface of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide. To Sullenberger, a calm, steady pilot with forty years of flying experience who is also a safety consulting expert, the landing was not a miracle but rather the result of years of practice and training-wisdom he gained in the cockpit of U.S. Air Force jets and in his Texas boyhood.
Born to a World War II veteran and dentist father and an elementary school teacher mother, Sully fell in love with planes early. He learned to fly as an eager 16-year-old from a crop duster, an older neighbor in north Texas, who took off and landed his fragile plane on the grass field behind his house. While Sully′s father encouraged his interest in flying, he also imparted stern advice he′d learned from his Navy service during World War II: a commander is responsible for everyone in his care-and those words have shaped Sully′s life and work and continue to guide him today.
HIGHEST DUTY reveals the important lessons Sully learned through childhood, in his military service, and in his work as a commercial airline pilot. At heart, it is a story of hope and preparedness-that life′s challenges can be met if we′re ready for them-reminding us that, even in these days filled with war, tragedy, and economic uncertainty, there are values still worth fighting for.
A few weeks after the crash, Sully discovered that he′d lost a library book about professional ethics, Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability, in the downed plane′s cargo hold. When he called the library to notify them, they waived the usual fees. Mayor Michael Bloomberg replaced the book when he gave Sully the Key to the City in a New York ceremony.