Sully (also known as Sully: Miracle on the Hudson) is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Todd Komarnicki, based on the autobiography Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow.
The film stars Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, with Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan, and Jerry Ferrara in supporting roles.
The film follows Sullenberger's January 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, in which all 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries, and the subsequent publicity and investigation.
Sully premiered at the 43rd Annual Telluride Film Festival on 2 September 2016, and was released in the United States by Warner Bros on 9 September 2016, in conventional and IMAX theaters.
film received very positive reviews from critics and The American Film
Institute selected it as one of its ten Movies of the Year.
The film is based on Sullenberger's autobiography Highest Duty, rights to which were optioned by producers Frank Marshall and Allyn Stewart in 2010. They developed the screenplay with Stewart's partner executive producer Kipp Nelson, hiring screenwriter Todd Komarnicki.
From the start, Sullenberger wanted the film to encompass "that sense of our common humanity", noting that the incident had taken place shortly after the 2008 Great Recession. He explains: "People were wondering if everything was about self-interest and greed. They were doubting human nature. Then all these people acted together, selflessly, to get something really important done. In a way, I think it gave everyone a chance to have hope, at a time when we all needed it." Screenwriter Todd Komarnicki said the difficulty was not depicting the landing in the river, but the investigation afterwards: "It wasn’t really a challenge of what to do with the event since that is the thing everyone knows about, it was more about how you parse out the information about the man slowly falling apart and becoming a hero in the eyes of the world when internally and with the investigators it was actually seemingly going the other way."
By June 2015, it was reported that Tom Hanks was already in talks to play the lead role of Sullenberger. Much of the rest of the cast was announced in August, with Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Holt McCallany, and Jamey Sheridan joining. In September it was announced that Jerry Ferarra would join, and, in October, Max Adler, Sam Huntington, and Wayne Bastrup.
photography on the film began on 28 September, 2015 in New York City.
On 15 October, filming started in Atlanta, where a building in downtown
Atlanta was transformed into a NYC hotel. Filming took place in North
Carolina, Los Angeles, Holloman AFB, New Mexico and Kearny, New Jersey
and concluded on 29 April 2016. This film was shot almost entirely with
Arri Alexa IMAX cameras.
Sully premiered at the 43rd Annual Telluride Film Festival on 2 September 2016 and was released in the United States in conventional and IMAX theaters on 9 September by Warner Bros.
When deciding where to release the film on the 2016 release calendar, WB executives began circling the first weekend after Labor Day considering most adult fall dramas do not begin opening until later in September or October, after summer. However, this would mean that the film's release would have to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. WB executives grew wary and spent a lot of time thinking if the release date would hurt the film's box office opening performance since the film contains a dream sequence in which the plane crashed into Manhattan skyscrapers, similar to the planes that crashed the World Trade Center. But WB domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein and his team nevertheless decided to release the film at that time because "Sully is a story of hope and a real hero who did his job."
According to the film's screenwriter, Todd Komarnicki, however, the release date was coincidental rather than planned and attributed it to the box-office logistics due mainly to limited availability of securing IMAX screens, since such screens usually get booked by tent-pole films in the summer and by Star Wars films during Christmas time, with reference being made to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which opened in December 2016.
Tom Hanks as Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger
o Blake Jones as Sully (16 years old)
• Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles
• Laura Linney as Lorraine Sullenberger
• Anna Gunn as Dr. Elizabeth Davis
• Autumn Reeser as Tess Soza
• Ann Cusack as Donna Dent
• Holt McCallany as Mike Cleary
• Mike O'Malley as Charles Porter
• Jamey Sheridan as Ben Edwards
• Jerry Ferrara as Michael Delaney
• Molly Hagan as Doreen Welsh
• Max Adler as Jimmy Stefanik
• Sam Huntington as Jeff Kolodjay
• Wayne Bastrup as Brian Kelly
• Valerie Mahaffey as Diane Higgins
• Katie Couric as herself
• Jeff Kober as L. T. Cook
• Molly Bernard as Alison
• Chris Bauer as Larry Rooney
• Jane Gabbert as Sheila Dail
• Michael Rapaport as Pete the Bartender
• Captain Vince Lombardi as himself
• Cooper Thornton as Jim Whitaker
• Noelle Fink as Emma Cowan
• David Letterman as himself (uncredited)
Sully received very positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 85%. The site's critical consensus reads, "As comfortingly workmanlike as its protagonist, Sully makes solid use of typically superlative work from its star and director to deliver a quietly stirring tribute to an everyday hero." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 74 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a positive review, praising Hanks and saying, "This is Hanks’ show, and he delivers a typically strong performance, quickly allowing us to forget that we’re watching an actor. With his snowy white hair and moustache to match, Hanks conveys a man confident in his abilities, yet humble in his actions, which could also be said of Eastwood as a director." IGN reviewer Simon Thompson awarded 9/10, writing: "Sully is a beautifully balanced, classily nuanced and hugely engaging film that avoids all the clichéd pitfalls it could have slipped into. Tom Hanks gives one of the best performances of his career and Clint Eastwood’s direction is beautiful and rich. It’s not just a great movie, Sully is one of the best pieces of cinema that a major Hollywood studio has released this year." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised both the film and Eastwood's direction, saying the film is "economical and solid, and generally low-key when it’s not freaking you out."
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film by calling it, "[A] vigorous and involving salute to professionalism and being good at your job". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised the film by giving 3.5 out of 4 stars and wrote, "...the movie earns your attention and respect by digging deep, by finding the fear and self-doubt inside a man who'd never accept being defined as a hero. It's an eye-opener." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded it 4 out of 4 stars, praising the film as "an absolute triumph" and saying that Hanks "delivers another in a long line of memorable, nomination-worthy performances."