Straight Up Films Options ‘Dead Mountain’; Nonfiction Book Examines Soviet-Era Hiking Disaster

EXCLUSIVE: Straight Up Films has optioned the nonfiction bestseller Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story Of The Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar. Blacklist screenwriter Brandon Lee Tenney has been tapped write the screenplay.

The book details the unsolved 1959 deaths of nine hikers in Russia’s Ural Mountains, in an elevation called Dead Mountain. Soviet investigators later determined that hikers, apparently fleeing some kind of threat, had torn open their tents and ran barefoot out into the snow. No signs of any struggle were found, though more than one of the dead had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. Unsurprisingly, the inability to determine what actually happened gave rise to numerous wild theories, ranging from the Soviet military was conducting secret weapons experiments in the area to an attack by extraterrestrials.

Eichar spent half a decade researching the incident, retracing the route taken by the hikers himself, interviewing surving family and friends and examining extant documents. Tenney’s script will dramatize the book’s account, focusing on the last days before the hikers died and on the bonds formed between them. Kate Cohen, Marisa Polvino and Casey Carroll of Straight Up Films will produce with Eichar; Peter Sussman is the executive producer.

Most recently, Straight Up Films produced 2014’s Transcendence and the Natalie Portman starrer Jane Got a Gun, which is in postproduction. Tenney is represented by WME, Art/Work Entertainment and attorney Neil Meyer. Eichar is with WME and Sussmanagement.

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