As it turns out, Todd Komarnicki’s path from the first pitch to being hired to write the script for the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic Sully was anything but certain. As he relayed today during the film’s panel at Deadline the Contenders event moderated by Pete Hammond, he spent nearly four months waiting for an answer. So he assumed he didn’t get the job.


Sully tells the story of US Airways pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when he landed a passenger jet on the Hudson River after collisions with a flock of birds disabled both of the plane’s engines. Since launching in theaters September 9 after a Telluride premiere, the film has been a solid hit for Warner Bros, pulling in $182 million on a $60 million budget, and is generating Oscar buzz for star Tom Hanks and Eastwood.

Upon learning that Sullenberger’s autobiography Highest Duty had been optioned, Komarnicki arranged a meeting with producers Frank Marshall and Allyn Stewart, giving them a 30-minute pitch that all three said today was nearly perfect. “I feel like you tapped my brain and said out loud the movie I want to see,” Kormarnicki says Marshall told him. Not a terrible start. Unfortunately, that was it for the screenwriter for some time.

Warner Bros.

“My perfect pitch meeting was followed by four months of total silence,” he said, adding that he moved on to other projects and put Sully out of his mind in the meantime. That is, until he — finally — was called and offered the job. “The one we heard first is the one we liked best,” said Stewart, who added that they only reason they didn’t run with it then was because it was the first pitch.

Also attending the Sully discussion were fellow producer Tim Moore and editor Blu Murray.

Also discussed during the Warner Bros presentation, Live By Night, the noir from director-star Ben Affleck based on the book by Dennis LeHane that’s set to hit theaters December 25. Editor William Goldenberg was on hand to talk about his work on the pic.