Paul Greengrass to Direct Adaptation of T.J. Newman Novel ‘Drowning’



Paul Greengrass has been hired to adapt the big-screen version of T.J. Newman’s novel “Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421.”

Greengrass will write, direct and produce the film, which is set at Warner Bros. The studio emerged victorious earlier this year in a bidding war, one that drew interest from the likes of Nicole Kidman, Alfonso Cuarón and Steven Spielberg, along with seven-figure offers from Apple and Bruckheimer, Paramount and Damien Chazelle, Legendary and Universal Television.

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group co-heads Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy prevailed after agreeing to pay $1.5 million for the rights and an additional $1.5 million on the first day of production. The studio also brought the “Drowning” author on as an executive producer. 

“Drowning” centers on a plane that crashes into the Pacific Ocean six minutes after takeoff. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors—but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside. Among them is an engineer and his 11-year-old daughter. His estranged wife — she’s also the girl’s mother — is part of the elite rescue team that races to save the passengers before their air runs out. The film has not been cast yet.

Newman worked as a flight attendant while she wrote her debut novel “Falling,” which follows a commercial flight from L.A. to N.Y. and takes a dramatic twist when the pilot finds out his family is being held hostage by terrorists. For his family to live, everyone on the plane must die. Though her books became best-sellers, it’s safe to say they are not the best plane reads.

Greengrass has directed a dozen films, ones that capture real-life horrors like 9/11 (“United 93”) and the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks (“22 July”), and the Somali pirate hijacking “Captain Phillips,” as well as fictional accounts of amnesiac CIA assassins (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Jason Bourne”). He most recently helmed the 2021 Western “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks a Civil War veteran who travels from town to town delivering the top headlines.

Greengrass will produce with Shane Salerno and The Story Factory and Greg Goodman, with Newman and Amy Lord serving as executive producers. Deadline first reported the news of Greengrass’ directing gig.


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