A major movie studio has acquired the rights to the story of Zach Sobiech, the Twin Cities teen who wrote songs while fighting cancer and became a music video sensation with “Clouds.”
Warner Bros. closed the deal on the book “Fly a Little Higher,” which Sobiech’s mother released in May 2014.
“We finally got it all buttoned up in the last week or two,” said Laura Sobiech on Tuesday. She said Warner Bros. initially made an offer in October.
“Now we’re in development,” said Jacquie Flynn, the literary agent for the book. “Of course, who knows how long we’ll be in development. [Warner representatives] say they are excited to get this going, but who knows.”
The authoritative Hollywood publication Variety said the movie will be titled “Clouds,” after one of the Lakeland teen’s songs, which became a worldwide phenomenon after its release in December 2012. The song had surpassed 3 million views at the time of the 18-year-old’s death in May 2013 and currently has more than 12 million views.
“To think that this is about a song that a kid scribbled on a napkin,” said Flynn of the Joelle Delbourgo Associates literary agency.
Laura Sobiech’s “Fly a Little Higher” (a line from “Clouds”) traces the family’s journey from the day in 2009 when Zach, then 14, developed a mysterious limp, until his death from osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
The book explores everything from the strain her son’s illness put on the rest of the family, to the anxiety that kept her awake at night, to the role Laura Sobiech’s faith played in helping her cope.
“Jane the Virgin” star Justin Baldoni is pegged to direct and produce the movie, the trade publication reported.
Baldoni created the digital documentary series, “My Last Days.” Zach Sobiech’s story closed out the first season, which appeared on SoulPancake’s YouTube channel. To date, the episode has garnered more than 14 million views.
“He’s always been incredibly moved by the story, since when he worked on the documentary,” Flynn said. “That was instrumental in Zach going viral.”
All of the various media channels that are telling Zach’s story have helped Laura Sobiech in her fundraising for the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, which has received more than $830,000 in support for cancer research.
“We will continue to share the story as long as it continues to raise awareness about childhood cancer,” Laura Sobiech said. “We gain a lot of peace with that.”
As for who might portray Zach in the movie, Flynn said she’d like to see “an upcoming musician who can embody the role. … I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be someone who is relatively unknown.”
Laura Sobiech playfully imagined playing herself in the film, but accepting a role would “depend on who’s playing Rob,” her husband. “I think Matt Damon would be a good option.”