Disney chases down ‘Ironmen’ spec script

Walt Disney Pictures has reached an agreement in principle with screenwriters Michael Hacker and Jeff Miller for the spec screenplay “Ironmen,” which appears headed for fast-track development by Disney’s family film division.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed; sources pegged the upfront figure at $ 55,000 against $ 325,000 if the pic is produced.

“Ironmen” is based on the true story of the Massachusetts-based Hoyt family, which is headed by a father who takes his quadriplegic son on an Ironman competition in Hawaii. It is the first major sale for the screenwriting team.

“The lead character cannot move and cannot speak, and yet you see that he absolutely has the full range of human experience,” said Hacker.

Miller was acting in a low-budget horror movie in Yugoslavia when he saw a taped segment about the Hoyt family on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” Once stateside, Miller tracked down the family and lived with them for three months to research the “Ironmen” script.

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Hacker is a former Zoetrope Studios assistant to such producers and filmmakers as Fred Roos, Wim Wenders and Martha Coolidge, who re-wrote the Mickey Rourke screenplay “Homeboy” and the L.A. stage play “Long Time Coming.”

The acquisition of the screenplay is a gutsy move for Walt Disney Pictures because many in the industry perceived the property as a telepic.

“Ironmen” was sent out a week ago along with an unusual sales tool — the taped “Wide World of Sports” segment. Metropolitan Talent Agency’s Graham Kaye brokered the deal on behalf of the screenwriters.

Bringing the project to the fore at Walt Disney Pictures was former Tisch Co. producer Tracey Thompson, who slotted it to Walt Disney Pictures president David Vogel and veepee of production Mireille Soria and is attached as the film’s producer.