EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has acquired Ryan Gattis’ YA novel Air for Adaptive Studios (Coin HeistProject Greenlight) and Get Lifted Film Co. (La La Land, Southside with You). The feature will be adapted and directed by Elgin James (Little Birds).

The story follows a 17 year-old who witnesses the tragic death of his mother in Colorado and is sent to live with his aunt in inner-city Baltimore where he struggles to fit into a new school and community. A new friend introduces him the leader of a group that uses high-octane sports as a form of social activism. By challenging the police with death-defying stunts and posting videos of them online, all three and their group become unlikely heroes in the fight against the prejudice that surrounds them. The lines between social activism and criminal behavior blur as their escalating stunts become a rallying point for the underprivileged and disenfranchised around the country, spreading like wildfire across the Internet.

“I know what it’s like to grow up disenfranchised and devalued, so I’m incredibly grateful to get to tell the story of Air, a story about the power of action and the fight to make yourself seen in a world that’s deemed you invisible,” said the director.

Air will be produced by John Legend and Mike Jackson from Get Lifted and Perrin Chiles and TJ Barrack of Adaptive Studios. The novel was published in December 2016 by Adaptive Books, the publishing imprint of Adaptive Studios.

Said Jackson: “This project came to us at such an important time in history. We are thrilled to be working with Adaptive Studios, Elgin James and Lionsgate to tell an incredible story about the power of activism.”

Perrin Chiles, Adaptive Studios CEO and Founding Partner, added: “Our team at Adaptive always knew that we had to tell this story. Now more than ever, we know that the message behind Air is one that will resonate with audiences around the country.”

James is repped by WME and manager Electric City Entertainment.