Producer Tom Rothman and director Robert Zemeckis (Flight) have started putting together the pieces for what could be a film in the same visual vein as Avatar, Life of Pi, and Gravity. The subject is high-wire artist Philippe Petit and his 1974 walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The stunt took six years of planning which began before construction on the buildings was even finished. Dubbed “the artistic crime of the century,” the feat was executed for 45 minutes as Petit gracefully danced on the wire 1,368 feet above the street.
Petit was arrested upon stepping off the wire; however, in light of the public praise for his accomplishment, formal charges were dropped. The famous walk garnered an appreciation for the towers, to which the public had previously not warmed. The event, including its planning and conception, was the subject of the 2008 award-winning documentary Man on Wire, as well as Petit’s 2002 book To Reach the Clouds.
Zemeckis and Rothman have not yet secured the rights to make the film, but that has not stopped them from making plans. The director has already co-written the script with Christopher Browne, and reportedly has his sights fixed on Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the role of Petit.
If all goes well, To Reach the Clouds will be shot using 3D technology to add another dimension to the already fascinating story. The majority of the film will play out like an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist flick, focusing on the years of planning and preparation that preceded the caper. Another theme will be the character of Petit as a man who devotes himself to pursuing a seemingly impossible dream. The actual high-wire walk will take place in the film’s third act, when the dream finally becomes reality.
The production goal is to begin shooting in late spring or early summer. Let’s hope that, like Petit, Zemeckis can get his project off the ground.