36films and its founder Michael Cuccolo have announced that they just got the rights to produce the survival drama Not Without Hope which has been tied up at Relativity Media. This is the project that is based on the New York Times best-selling book from personal trainer Nick Schuyler and the boating accident they had in the Gulf of Mexico in late February 2009 that took the lives of NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith, as well as Schuyler’s best friend Will Bleakley.
The dramatic search and rescue effort that took place over three days during the biggest storm to hit The Gulf in decades was a worldwide media event that ended when Schuyler was found near death clinging to the engine mount of the capsized 21’ vessel 70 miles offshore.
This is also the project that had Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson attached to star. That is no longer the case. The story of Schuyler had been the subject of an Emmy nominated HBO Real Sports segment and was a one-hour Oprah Winfrey special.
“This story played out in front of the entire world,” said Cuccolo. “It has all the human elements to make a great film. We’re thrilled to be a part of it, and that’s why I founded 36Films to tell stories like this.”
Both Cuccolo and Schuyler’s agent (and friend) Rick French said in a statement: “We’re going to tell Nick’s story in a way that honors the memories of his friends.”
The two have the script and the life rights and the option for the book went to 36films, which is based in New Jersey and was founded in 2011. Cuccolo will produce the project along with French.
The rights for this was, at one point, optioned by Mark Wahlberg and his Close to the Hole Prods. Wahlberg’s option lapsed and it went to Relativity who then attached Johnson. That’s before Relativity fell into bankruptcy. Even so, it kept ahold of the project. Relativity has since been fighting off the transition from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7.
Two to three weeks ago, 36Films picked up Not Without Hope up in turnaround from Relativity and have now optioned the rights to the book from Schuyler after paying a small fee to a creditor of Relativity’s. Rick French was the agent for Schuyler through the Wahlberg option and its Relativity. To go into the specifics, French then bought the Nick Mariani-written script in turnaround and then optioned the life rights and the script to 36films, but Schuyler and French continue to own the publishing rights to the book.
Mr. Wahlberg had held the rights for 18 months until French set the project up at Relativity Media, which was coming off a string of hits with Act of Valor, Limitless and the Academy-Award nominated The Fighter.
It wasn’t until last month that French was able to negotiate its release with the help of current Relativity Production President Brett Dahl, who originally landed the project for the studio, they said.