Monday, January 30, 2006
Contact: H. Keith Spears, Vice President for Communications and Marketing, (304) 696-7153

Warner Bros. announces plans to make movie on MU plane crash

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The story of the 1970 Marshall University football team plane crash and the spirited recovery that followed not only at Marshall, but in the Huntington community, soon will be told worldwide.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures announced today that filmmaker McG will direct and Matthew McConaughey will star in the yet-to-be titled Marshall University Football Project. It will be produced by Basil Iwanyk and McG.

Through the combined efforts of the Governor's office, the West Virginia Film Office and Marshall University, a portion of the film will be shot in and around Huntington as well as on Marshall's campus. Warner Bros. said filming will begin this spring.

"This film is a great opportunity for West Virginia to receive international recognition for the tremendous community spirit and empathy that West Virginians show when faced with tragedy," Governor Joe Manchin said.  "Beyond that, it shows our resilience and will to move forward with a courageous spirit."

McConaughey will star as Jack Lengyel, who coached the Young Thundering Herd football team for four years after the crash that killed 75 people, including 37 players, six coaches, two athletic department staff members, 25 supporters and five aircraft crew.

The Thunder Road/Wonderland Films production will be released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is being co-financed by Legendary Pictures.

"We are very pleased that Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are taking this legacy of Marshall University and treating it with the respect and honor that it deserves," Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp said. "Undoubtedly, this story will touch the lives of people across the nation. It is a story that many have thought needed to be told through a major film."

McG is considered one of Hollywood's most sought-after filmmakers, with "Charlie's Angels" and its sequel among his films. Iwanyk's most recent film is "Firewall," starring Harrison Ford, which is being released in February.

Where possible, Marshall faculty, staff and students will be used as extras in the film, and university theatre and broadcast students may be offered internships.

The executive producers of the Marshall University Football Project are Brent O'Connor, Thomas Tull, Jeanne Allgood and Scott Mednick. The screenplay is by Jamie Linden, based on a story by Cory Helms and Linden. Lynn Harris is the Warner Bros. Pictures executive overseeing the project for the studio.  Dr. H. Keith Spears of Marshall University and Pam Haynes of the WV Film Office also have been involved with this project since its development.