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Will Smith’s production company has partnered with Sony Pictures Entertainment to bring to life the story of one of the many heroes of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, the two companies announced Wednesday (May 20).

Overbrook Entertainment and Sony have earned the film rights to the story of former Marine John Keller, who rescued nearly 244 of his neighbors in New Orleans in the days that followed one of the largest natural disaster on American soil to date.

Keller, who was nicknamed “The Can Man” by the media, orchestrated the rescue of his elderly neighbors from their apartment building, the American Can Company in New Orleans’ Mid City neighborhood.

Following the levee breach that flooded the city and added to the damage already caused by Hurricane winds, American Can sat in over 11 feet of water.

Keller single-handedly kept his neighbors calm and controlled while helping them exit the building.

While the announcement from Overbrook and Sony did not specify a production start date or casting, The Times-Picayune reports that Overbrook executive Jeff Sommerville has confirmed that Smith is likely to portray the 6’7″ Keller himself.

“When I came back after Katrina and talked to the old people I had saved, they all said God was going to bless me, I’m going to receive my blessing” Keller told the Times-Picayune. “Well, I guess this is it. “I wasn’t in it for the money,” he added. “But I was able to affect so many people. It wasn’t just the people I got out of the building but everybody who valued those people too.”

The film will be written and directed by John Lee Hancock, the writer behind the 1997 blockbuster Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.


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