You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Auditorium filled to capacity for Otto Warmbier funeral 

Local firm working to make Wright Brothers film a reality


The Wright Brothers may be coming to the big screen — with some strong Dayton connections.

In the last week of his life, David Lightle, chief executive of Dayton’s Wright Brothers USA, signed a contract with a Hollywood film production firm to start work on an animated 3-D feature film based in part on a 2004 children’s book, “Wee and the Wright Brothers.”

Lightle then went to China, where he had many business dealings. He died there on Aug. 28 at the age of 58.

The contract he signed before he left defines roles for the production company, Mechaniks, and Wright Brothers USA, which has drafted sketches for characters in the movie.

Lightle also agreed that a writing credit would go to Boris Damast, a Mechaniks principal, to help develop the screenplay, said Kenneth Botts, Wright Brothers USA president and one of Lightle’s surviving partners.

Lightle’s screenplay follows a mouse named “Wee” as he accompanies the Wright Brothers’s invention of the airplane, involving an international cast of characters and contending with birds who don’t want humans to fly.

An early task is to find voice talent to commit to roles in the movie, said Botts and Doug Knopp, Wright Brothers USA chief designer and creative director. They also want to attract investment support for what they expect to be a $60 million to $80 million project.

Botts and Knopp think the film could attract a studio and a distributor for domestic release around the end of 2019 and for release in China in 2020, that country’s “year of the rat.”

“That is optimistic,” Damast said of the timeline.

The Dayton company has developed the characters for a year and will be listed in the film as executive producers.

The news comes at a time when David McCullough’s best-selling book, The Wright Brothers, has brought renewed attention to the Wrights. HBO and Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone, last year bought the rights to that book.

“I think one of the things that made this a viable project is largely the attention the Wright Brothers are getting, ” said Timothy Gaffney, author of the 2004 children’s book on which the screenplay is partly based.

Gaffney — spokesman for the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and a former Dayton Daily News reporter — said he and Lightle spoke many times about the screenplay, but Lightle did most of the writing while “doggedly” pursuing producers for a film.

All agreed this is part of Lightle’s legacy.

“There’s probably even more passion now to realize Dave’s dream for this,” Damast said.

Wright Brothers USA’s sister company Visual Marketing Associates had been doing animation for a Chinese company when Lightle first shared his screenplay with Mechaniks, Botts said.

“A day or two later, they got back with Dave and said, ‘Dave, this is actually quite good,” Botts said. “‘We would like to be the producers.’”

Mechaniks principal Andrea Kikot said she and Damast were intrigued.

“It’s a wonderful blend of fantasy and fact, very unusual, even for animated films,” Damast said. “Clearly, it’s inspired by the children’s book of the same name. However … it sparked an idea in his head for doing something like this.”

“Something quite original actually,” Kikot added.

Pitch packages have been sent to financiers. They hope to be funded by the first quarter next year, Damast said.

William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, one of the big Hollywood casting agencies, is involved in casting, they said. Mechaniks is also speaking with animation companies “around the world,” Kikot said.

“We’ve just started going out publicly with this,” Kikot said.

Mechaniks has worked in production for the new film version of The Jungle Book, as well as television projects for HBO TV, Fox TV, USA Networks and commercials for Apple, American Airlines and others. The firm is also involved in an upcoming film on the composer Vivaldi.

Lightle, Botts and Knopp founded Wright Brothers USA to guide the licensing of the Wright brothers’ name and images to sell carefully selected products — mainly bicycles and watches — before staring an online commerce site in May 2015, TheWrightBrothersStore.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Shannen Doherty flaunts growing hair months after going into remission
Shannen Doherty flaunts growing hair months after going into remission

Shannen Doherty is loving her new, curly locks. >> Read more trending news In a sweet photo update with husband Kurt Iswarienko, Doherty showed off her new look as her hair grows back following months of cancer treatments. “I think my husband and I are morphing into each other,” she wrote with the hashtag #curlyhairdontcare in a post...
Chicago-based pizzeria Giordano’s opens first Ohio location
Chicago-based pizzeria Giordano’s opens first Ohio location

Giordano’s, a Chicago-based pizzeria, opened a location in Columbus near Polaris Fashion Place mall. The restaurant, located at 2137 Polaris Parkway, marks the business’ first location in Ohio. Opened in Chicago in 1974, the pizzeria has become an acclaimed establishment. Giordano’s has been named “Chicago’s Best Pizza&rdquo...
7 things to know now: Health care bill; Cosby juror speaks; no interference, Coats, Rogers say
7 things to know now: Health care bill; Cosby juror speaks; no interference, Coats, Rogers say

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and the world today.What to know now:1. Not asked to interfere: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers have told special counsel Robert Mueller and senate investigators that they did not feel President Donald Trump ordered them to interfere...
Boys wear skirts after shorts request denied
Boys wear skirts after shorts request denied

As a heatwave blankets Britain, a group of teens at Isca Academy in Exeter wanted to ditch their long pants for shorts. But the dress code banned short pants and the head teacher decided against easing the uniform rules. >> Read more trending news One mother said that the head teacher told her son, “Well, you can wear a skirt if you like...
Popular fitness model killed in freak whipped cream accident
Popular fitness model killed in freak whipped cream accident

A popular French fitness model was killed in a freak accident involving a whipped cream dispenser, her family says. Fox News reports that Rebecca Burger, who has more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, was killed when a defective whipped cream dispenser exploded and hit her in the chest. She was 33 years old. Burger did receive medical attention...
More Stories