Sony Pictures and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment have picked up the movie rights to the story of an ex-Marine who orchestrated the rescue of hundreds of his neighbors during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 260 pounds, John Keller lived in a five-story apartment building at the time of the 2005 storm. After chasing away looters, he emerged as the man in charge of the building and its 244 residents, many of them elderly or handicapped. For five days, Keller, dubbed the ‘Can Man,’ kept his neighbors, isolated by 11 feet of water, safe. He also directed the eventual rescue operation from the building’s roof.

John Lee Hancock (‘The Rookie,’ ‘The Alama’) will write and direct the project, titled ‘The American Can.’

Development of the project is based on an acquired spec script by Adetoro Makinde, whose Back Door Films will serve as a producer.

Hancock is in production on ‘The Blind Side,’ the true story of an impoverished black teen who attracted the interest of a white couple and became one of the top high school football prospects in the country.