With a movie telling the story of Neil Armstrong and the lead up to NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, First Man, getting set to release next week, another movie about a NASA mission has cast its lead.
It’s being reported that Michelle Williams is set to star in The Challenger, which tells the true story of Christa McAuliffe. Williams will play McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire who NASA chose to be a part of their Teacher in Space Project.
McAuliffe was part of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger for its 10th mission, STS-51-L. Part of this mission was for McAuliffe to teach lessons in space. The Challenger and its seven crew members, including McAuliffe, lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on January 28, 1986. But just 73 seconds after launch, tragedy struck when a structural failure caused Challenger to break apart.
Producing the film is John Linson and Art Linson, as well as Ben Renzo of Argent Pictures.
Of the casting announcement, Renzo said:
“We are more than humbled and extremely grateful for the opportunity to help tell the story of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger mission. Christa McAuliffe’s legacy deserves the strength, courage, experience and humanity that Michelle Williams brings to the role. The entire Argent team is honored and eager to responsibly capture and share the events and personal journeys of those surrounding this important historical moment with audiences around the world to help remember and further appreciate the sacrifices Christa and rest of the Challenger crew made to further our journey into space.”
Executive producing The Challenger is Argent partners Jill Ahrens, Ryan Ahrens, Drew Brees, Tony Parker, Derrick Brooks, and Michael Finley. If those last four names sound familiar, it’s because they’re all sports stars.
Brees is the Super Bowl winning quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. Parker won four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs, and currently plays for the Charlotte Hornets. Brooks is a retired NFL linebacker who played his entire career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winning a Super Bowl with them in 2002. Finally, Finley is a retired NBA star who won an NBA championship along with Parker with the Spurs in 2007.
Directing The Challenger is Martin Zandvliet, whose credits include Land of Mine and most recently the Jared Leto Netflix original The Outsider. The screenplay was written by Jayson Rothwell (Polar, Silent Night).
Production on the film is planned for a May 2019 start.