Good things happen when you can list a Star Wars movie on your resume – as demonstrated by Rogue One scribe Chris Weitz, who has been hired by Fox 2000 to get the script for The Mountain Between Us across the finish line. The film has been in development for some time, with earlier screenplay drafts having been delivered by J. Mills Goodloe and Scott Frank – but cameras have yet to roll.
The film is an adaptation of the 2010 novel of the same name, written by Charles Martin. The story finds successful writer Ashley Knox at Salt Lake City airport, trying to get home for her wedding. Surgeon Ben Payne is also at the airport, trying to get back to his patients. When their flight is cancelled, and any hope of keeping their imminent, respective schedules vanishes, Ben charters a small plane to get him home and offers the other seat to Ashley – whom he has never met before.
When the pilot suffers a fatal heart attack during the flight, the plane crashes in the High Uintas Wilderness in north-eastern Utah – which is an area known to be one of the most remote and inhospitable landscapes in the U.S. As the two strangers work together to survive, they begin to form a tender bond that is hampered by the state of their personal lives back home.
A previous version of The Mountain Between Us was reportedly to have starred Michael Fassbender and Margot Robbie at one stage, but they were replaced by Charlie Hunnam and Rosamund Pike after dropping out. Both Hunnam and Pike have now also departed the project, leaving it currently without a cast. This suggests that all eyes are now on Chris Weitz in the hope that his final script will attract some new onscreen talent. Behind the camera, Hany Abu-Assad (Omar, Paradise Now) will be in the director’s chair.
The Mountain Between Us is scheduled for a summer 2016 shoot, so we should hear some casting news once Chris Weitz delivers his script. Hopefully, the finished version will improve the calibre of the lead characters – the narrative dynamic between which, in the source novel, is somewhat stereotypical. He is an enigmatic, athletic man with hidden depths and emotional baggage, while she is having doubts about her impending nuptials, and feels an overwhelming urge to fix him. Surely an adaptation in 2016 can do better than that?