Drowning – Plot, Director, Writer, And More Info

There's nothing Hollywood loves more than a snappy, propulsive, made-for-the-movies book premise from some of the most exciting authors around. Just in the last decade alone, we've seen writer Andy Weir parlay the breakout success of his debut work "The Martian" and its 2015 adaptation by director Ridley Scott into another upcoming movie deal, this time headlined by filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. "Gone Girl" author Gillian Flynn has had "Sharp Objects" turned into a major HBO series, while she teamed up with no less a talent than Steve McQueen to adapt the British TV series "Widows" into one of the most brilliant, under-appreciated thrillers of the last several years. Now, movie fans would be well advised to remember the name T.J. Newman, who appears ready to become the next big name-brand novelist around.

Newman's first novel, "Falling," inspired a massive bidding war soon after publishing in 2021, and her latest novel, "Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 421," has inspired a similar Hollywood frenzy. After telling the adrenaline-pumping story of a pilot blackmailed by mysterious kidnappers into crashing his airliner in "Falling," Newman is returning to very familiar territory (the author is a former flight attendant) in her newest adventure featuring a downed plane — this time, the survivors are trapped underneath the ocean and face a frightening race against time to be rescued.

With reports swirling of new details involving some high-profile names circling the upcoming adaptation, here's everything we know so far about "Drowning."

When does Drowning premiere?

"Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 421" — first published back in May 2023 — rapidly became a best-selling novel and earned rave reviews. This came fresh on the heels of T.J. Newman's first foray into writing with "Falling," which arrived in June 2021 and firmly established the author as an up-and-comer worth paying attention to. 

Despite so much hype surrounding turning her early projects into feature films, however, no release date information has yet been revealed. In fact, neither "Falling" nor "Drowning" have any concrete premieres at this present moment in time, though the former is most likely due to interruptions caused by the pandemic. For now, it seems eager fans will have to wait just a little while longer to find out exactly when they'll be able to watch either of Newman's buzzy adaptations land on the big screen.

What are the plot details of Drowning?

Imagine if the real-life events that inspired the 2016 movie "Sully" had taken a much nastier turn. Instead of a miraculous water landing on the Hudson River with no casualties whatsoever beyond a few minor scrapes (which could've easily been prevented if the heroic pilot had just, you know, avoided flying into a massive flock of birds in the first place), a commercial jet experiences a similar disaster only minutes after takeoff ... but ends up crashing into the Pacific Ocean and sinking hundreds of feet below the waves. That's the basic premise of "Drowning," which follows a dozen survivors trapped in a pressurized and fully sealed compartment of the aircraft and the frantic efforts from rescue teams above to save their lives. A Deadline report includes this brief synopsis:

In "Drowning," a plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean six minutes after takeoff and is flooded after an explosion during evacuation. A dozen survivors sink in a sealed part of the aircraft as it perches precariously on an undersea cliff 200 feet below the surface. Among them is an engineer and his 11-year-old daughter. His estranged wife — she's also the girl's mother — is part of the elite rescue team that races to save the passengers before their air runs out.

Who is writing and directing Drowning?

When it comes to staging a largely one-location thriller involving dire circumstances and a desperate rescue attempt, you want a director who's established a certain degree of familiarity with such constraints and proven their ability to wring as much drama and tension out of it as possible. Cue Paul Greengrass, the filmmaker who's been brought on board to direct and produce "Drowning." In terms of relevant work, Greengrass has credits under his belt such as the Tom Hanks-starring hit "Captain Phillips" and the harrowing 9/11 retelling of the doomed flight "United 93." He also previously directed the latter three "Bourne" movies led by Matt Damon, Netflix's "22 July," and most recently the Western "News of the World." 

In addition to directing, Greengrass will produce "Drowning" alongside Shane Salerno and Greg Goodman, with T.J. Newman and Amy Lord set to serve as executive producers. On the writing side of things, Greengrass was originally going to pen the script, but he's gotten a bit busy directing the upcoming real-life thriller "The Last Bus." So screenplay duties will now go to Steve Kloves, who wrote every single "Harry Potter" movie except "The Order of the Phoenix." He also earned an Oscar nomination for writing the Michael Douglas drama "Wonder Boys."