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James Marsh’s documentary Man On Wire remains one of the best films – not "documentaries," but overall films – I’ve seen in probably the last 10 years. The doc recounts the time wire-walker Philippe Petit tightrope walked between the Twin Towers. And the culmination of Marsh’s work, the actual wire walk between the World Trade Center buildings, is a breathtaking moment that I’ll never forget seeing on screen for the first time.
I want to see it again. And in 3D. So this bit of news is spectacular.
Deadline says that director Robert Zemeckis is attatched to an adaptation of To Reach the Clouds, a project that would retell Petit’s miraculous walk. The details laid out in Marsh’s documentary seem to mirror what Zemeckis is pursuing. Petit and his crew, obviously, weren’t technically allowed to string a wire between the Twin Towers and walk across them. So they had to sneak in, stake out their territory, and conduct the walk while authorities were distracted.
Zemeckis will follow that template. Deadline says that the wire walk would take place in the third act of the film, and that Clouds (if that’s what the film ends up being called), will be "one part protagonist chasing a crazy impossible dream, and another part caper pic." The trade says that Zemeckis wants Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the role of Petit, but nothing has been negotiated.
If you missed Man On Wire, find it. Now. It’s mesmerizing. This trailer gives you a sense of Petit’s playful storytelling methods (he’s a bit of a clown… but FEARLESS):
Here’s where a thrilling story grows more exciting. Clouds will be the first major project backed by ex-Fox studio head Tom Rothman’s new endeavor, TriStar Productions. And Deadline says that Rothman is pursuing a project that will push the envelope of 3D the way that Life of Pi and Avatar did at Fox under Rothman’s reign.
Handing a project like this to a gifted visual wizard like Zemeckis and telling him to test the boundaries of 3D is brilliant. If he can put us in Petit’s shoes during that fateful wire walk, we might encounter the most visceral 3D thrill ever placed on screen. There’s also a reverence to Petit’s story due to the absence of the World Trade Center, and Zemeckis is the right filmmaker to blend effects and emotion. This project could be something very special. We’ll track it. I pray this comes together, with these pieces in place.