Paul Greengrass to Direct Warner Bros. Thriller ‘Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 421’

T.J Newman’s best-selling novel concerns survivors of an airplane crash trapped atop an underwater cliff

Paul Greengrass
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Paul Greengrass will direct and produce “Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 421” for Warner Bros. Discovery, an individual with knowledge of the move told TheWrap on Tuesday.

The picture, based on T.J. Newman’s best-selling novel, was the subject of an intense bidding war, with Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy’s Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group coming out on top.  

The novel, published in March of this year, concerns a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean just after takeoff. Following the crash and an explosion that causes flooding, a dozen survivors are trapped in a sealed portion of the aircraft which ends up perched atop an undersea cliff.  

Newman, a former flight attendant turned best-selling author, previously penned “Falling” in 2021 and has become the kind of author whose books get snapped up for movie rights before they are even published. That book became the fastest-selling fiction debut for publisher Sumon & Schuster since 2004. A movie version is in the works via Universal and Moving Title.  

With Universal in talks to let Edward Berger direct another “Bourne” movie, Greengrass won’t be needed in this capacity, freeing him up to do another intense as-it-happens thriller along the likes of “Captain Phillips,” “Flight 93” and “Bloody Sunday.”  

Deadline first reported the news.

It’s too soon to hope that Newman becomes, relatively speaking, a marquee novelist akin to the likes of John Grisham, Michael Crichton and Nicholas Sparks, but Hollywood certainly seems to hope that Newman’s disaster novels can serve as the basis for adult-skewing, old-school star+concept thrills that audiences claim to want from their multiplex entertainment.


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