You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myDaytonDailyNews.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 bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myDaytonDailyNews.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myDaytonDailyNews.com.

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 Local

School, businessman and A Special Wish have ongoing connection
School, businessman and A Special Wish have ongoing connection

A Special Wish Foundation — Dayton (ASW) has been granting wishes for 33 years, and for 29 of those years, Smith Middle School in Vandalia has helped make this happen. Generations of children, though in very different circumstances, have been giving back to ASW’s mission. Each year, fourth- and fifth-grade classes participate in penny wars...
What are platelet-rich plasma injections? Why is Tiger Woods a fan?
What are platelet-rich plasma injections? Why is Tiger Woods a fan?

The only thing worse than sustaining an injury to the body is not being able to find a therapy that will help it get better. Jeffrey James, a DO with Premier Orthopedics, believes there’s hope to that problem through a therapy called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, a newer technique designed to promote healing by using the body’s...
David Cassidy reveals he has dementia
David Cassidy reveals he has dementia

After a recent concert in California, former teen idol David Cassidy got viral attention for the wrong reasons after footage of his show hit the internet. Cassidy, 66, appeared drunk, confused and disoriented during his Agoura Hills, California, show, where he often slurred his words and forgot the lyrics to his songs. Many assumed that Cassidy...
2 fatal crashes kills three people in Clark County
2 fatal crashes kills three people in Clark County

Three people were killed in two accidents in Clark County over the weekend, including a fiery crash in Springfield that killed two people and injured a third. Officials responded to the 1800 block of West Pleasant Street near Dayton Avenue on Saturday about 6:20 p.m. and found a gray Chrysler 300 on fire. The driver, Charles L. Foster II, 26, of Springfield...
Pliers used in armed robbery of Dayton Kwik N Cold
Pliers used in armed robbery of Dayton Kwik N Cold

A thief, armed with nothing more than a pair of pliers, robbed a Linden Avenue Kwik N Cold in Dayton Sunday night. The robber held the pliers over the head of a cashier as if he were going to stab the clerk before running off with cash, according to a Dayton police report. According to the report, the suspect matched the description of someone who...
More Stories