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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Thai cave rescue could get Hollywood treatment

Films ripped from the headlines have not always set the world on fire.

Three of the 12 boys in their hospital beds after being rescued along with their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand (Thailand Government Spokesman Bureau via AP)
Three of the 12 boys in their hospital beds after being rescued along with their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand (Thailand Government Spokesman Bureau via AP)

By Jake Coyle, Associated Press

The captivating rescue of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand looks set to get the Hollywood treatment.

The producers behind Christian films such as God’s Not Dead are already in the country with plans to develop a movie about the 18-day saga.

Seven divers in the rescue team were from the UK, including Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, who were the first to reach the group.

Though the drama of headline-grabbing rescues does not often carry over to the big screen, Pure Flix Entertainment co-founder Michael Scott said he believes the story is ripe for movie adaptation.

The last four Thai navy Seals come out safely (Royal Thai Navy via AP)

“We realised that this would make an incredibly inspiring movie,” Mr Scott said.

“Like a lot of people, we know there’s not a lot of positive news in the world today.”

Mr Scott said he feels a personal connection with the story, as his wife is Thai and he was spending the summer in Bangkok when the football team went missing.

He and fellow producer Adam Smith recently travelled to the area around the cave in northern Thailand, and they have begun talking to some of the participants about their “life rights”.

But they also stressed that they are not yet pursuing most of the families of the boys, who on Wednesday remained recuperating in hospital.

“For us it’s not a huge race,” said Mr Smith. “It’s about making sure we get the authenticity right.”

Rescuers hold an evacuated boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand (Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page via AP)

Many hurdles await as most films that enter development never get produced, and the producers are just beginning to seek a screenwriter.

Other film production companies are likely to show interest, and they could leapfrog ahead with a larger production.

And while Pure Flix, based in Arizona, has found some success with low-budget Christian films and conservative documentaries, it is far from a Hollywood heavyweight.

Others in TV and film are already looking to capitalise.

Discovery has scheduled a one-hour documentary special to debut on Friday.

But Pure Flix hopes it can beat any fiction-film rush.

Rescuers stand at a checkpoint near the entrance to the cave (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

“I don’t think this is a religious film,” said Mr Scott. “I think this is an inspirational film.”

There is also some reason to doubt the box-office appeal of the story.

Films ripped from the headlines have not been setting the world on fire.

Though Clint Eastwood’s Sully was a success, his 2018 docudrama about the 2015 Thalys train attack, The 15:17 To Paris, disappointed.

Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi” (2016) was the director’s worst-performing release.

Peter Berg’s 2016 big-budget drama about the 2010 oil rig explosion Deepwater Horizon likewise fizzled.

The best comparison would be 2015’s The 33, about the 2010 mining disaster in Chile that trapped 33 miners for two months.

Though boasting a starry cast of Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin and Juliette Binoche, it made barely a blip at the box office, taking 24.9 million dollars worldwide.

Press Association

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