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Will Smith, Sony acquire Katrina story

John Lee Hancock to write and direct feature

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment are set to dive into the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Studio and shingle have obtained bigscreen life rights to John Keller, an ex-Marine who orchestrated the rescue of 244 of his New Orleans neighbors after their building, the American Can Co., was flooded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The five-story structure sat in 11 feet of water after the breach of the levees.

John Lee Hancock (“The Rookie,” “The Alamo”) is onboard to write and direct.

In addition to Keller’s life rights, Sony acquired Adetoro Makinde’s spec script, which chronicles the heroism of Keller and will serve as a starting point for Hancock’s draft.

James Lassiter, Smith and Ken Stovitz are producing through their Sony-based Overbrook banner alongside Back Door Films’ Makinde. 

Nicknamed “The Can Man,” Keller has been profiled in several publications. He has said that he was motivated to help not out of any financial gain, nor a desire to be a hero, but a concern for the elderly residents of his building.

Hancock is currently shooting the Sandra Bullock starrer “The Blind Side.”

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