Robert Zemeckis is teaming up with producer Tom Rothman for To Reach For the Clouds, a 3D narrative remake of the hit documentary Man on Wire, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt being eyed to star. The producer is acquiring the rights to the memoirs of Philippe Petit, the man who walked on a tightrope between the Twin Towers on August 7, 1974. Robert Zemeckis will direct from a script he is co-writing with Christopher Browne. The original Man on Wire documentary, directed by James Marsh, won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2009.
This will be the first project under Tom Rothman's TriStar Productions company, which is said to be in the same vein as experimental 3D projects he shepherded during his time at 20th Century Fox, such as Avatar and Life of Pi. The idea for the project reportedly came to the producer after he watched Gravity, as he tried to think of other high-concept ideas that could be done in 3D. He took the idea to Robert Zemeckis, whom he knew had always wanted to make a feature about Philippe Petit and his death-defying walk across the Twin Towers.
The actual tightrope walk won't be featured until the third act of the story, which is described as a mix between a man chasing an impossible dream and a heist film. A bulk of the story will center on how Philippe Petit and a group of friends meticulously planned what was later called the "artistic crime of the century." At night, they sneaked up to the top of the towers to string a 450-foot cable from one building to the other, using a custom-made 26-foot balancing pole. The heist elements of the story are being compared to Ocean's Eleven.
There is no deal on the table for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, although the director hopes to get production on the fast track to start shooting by this spring or summer. Robert Zemeckis is also producing alongside Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke, with Cherylanne Martin serving as line producer and executive producer.