Sully Executives Admit They Questioned The Movie's Controversial Sequence


Sully is a movie about a hero who saves more than one hundred lives through quick thinking, skill, a small dash of good luck. However, the film doesn't exactly open that way. Now executives at Warner Bros. are opening up about the film's controversial scenes, and coincidental timing. They did discuss the fact that a film opening on the 9/11 anniversary contained scenes of planes crashing into New York City, but ultimately, they decided the fact that the story was about heroism, rather than tragedy, was more important.

"We spent a lot of time thinking, 'Would this hurt us?' But we decided to go ahead because Sully is a story of hope and a real hero who did his job. So we said, 'You know what, we're not going to worry about it.'

The opening sequence of Sully is actually a dream sequence in which Chesley Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks, considers what might have happened had he tried to return to the airport, rather than landing the plane in the Hudson River. In the dream, everything goes terribly wrong and the plane crashes into skyscrapers. This sequence has been deemed controversial by many, especially considering that the film was released on September 9, just two days before the 15th anniversary of a plane related terrorist attack in the same city. The 9/11 parallels are an undercurrent of the entire film, and specifically mentioned by a character once, but some have still questioned the decision to include such a scene. It appears the studio wasn't blind to the situation but WB's distribution chief Jeff Goldstein tells The Hollywood Reporter that they ultimately decided to go forward.

Sully opened at number one at the box office last weekend, which seems to indicate that the decision to open on that particular weekend did not hurt them. However, some people have still taken issue with the decision to include a scene that echoes 9/11.

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It is certainly clear that some could have done without the visual reminder on such a specific weekend.

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Both Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki have defended the decision to use the scenes because they feel that, on the whole, Sully is an "inverted" story of 9/11, where a plane disaster in New York ends with a hero and lives saved, as opposed to lives lost. It also appears that the decision to open Sully last weekend had more to do with the availability of IMAX screens than it did any desire to connect with the September 11 anniversary.

What do you think? Was it the right call for Sully to show planes crashing into New York City? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.