Universal puts ‘First Man’ into orbit

Studio acquires Hansen's Neil Armstrong tome

Universal has acquired nonfiction tome “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” and will turn it into a film about the first person to set foot on the moon.

NASA historian James R. Hansen got rare direct access to Armstrong, a test pilot-turned-astronaut who was so driven to reach the moon and play the role of American hero that he became known as “the Ice Commander.”

Nicole Perlman will write the script. Temple Hill Entertainment partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey produce.

“The closer he got to the moon, the further away he became from his family,” Perlman said. “He had a family tragedy before Apollo that turned him into this driven astronaut, and he became such a perfect hero that while Buzz Aldrin was announced to be the first man on the moon, NASA reversed its decision because Neil was regarded as more heroic.”

Armstrong returned from the moon as one of the most famous men on Earth but didn’t capitalize on it with a political career or endorsements. He reconnected with his family, shut out the world and became an intensely private man.

Perlman just rewrote her script “Challenger,” a project about Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman’s investigation into the 1986 Space Shuttle tragedy. Originally set up at Media 8 with “The Right Stuff” helmer Phil Kaufman, “Challenger” now has Nathaniel Kahn (“My Architect”) attached to direct, and it will go out to financiers shortly.

Perlman is also scripting “Kiss and Tango” for Fox 2000, and she is writing a pic about the Wright brothers for National Geographic Films based on the book “One Day at Kitty Hawk” by John Evangelist Walsh.