×

Six Thai Cave Rescue Films Now in Development

The number of films being prepared about the recent cave rescue in northern Thailand has risen to six, according to Thai government sources.

Thailand’s Ministry of Culture says it expects the military government’s Cabinet next week to approve the establishment of a special committee to oversee all film projects relating to the dramatic mission.

“Five international film production companies have proposed to the commerce and foreign ministries that they make a movie and a documentary about the rescue operation,” Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said Thursday. At least one Thai company is also developing a film.

Rojpojchanarat did not identify any of the production firms, although two were quick to pounce on the story, with one scouting locations near Chiang Rai even before all 13 boys and their soccer coach had been extracted.

“Now You See Me 2” director Jon M. Chu and Ivanhoe Pictures last week said they were teaming up on a movie about the rescue operation. Their announcement came a day after Pure Flix Entertainment announced that it, too, was seeking the movie rights to the mission.

Pure Flix, behind such faith-based films as the “God’s Not Dead” movies, and “Do You Believe?”, said its project would focus on the inspirational aspects of the story. Chu, whose tribute to decadence, “Crazy Rich Asians,” releases next month, said he would not allow Hollywood to whitewash the rescue. “There’s a beautiful story about human beings saving other human beings,” Chu said on Twitter.

Discovery Channel has already shot an hour-long documentary, “Operation Thai Rescue,” which aired in the U.S. last Friday and will air in Thailand next Monday.

Besides the five international initiatives, DeWarrenne Productions, headed by Thai-Irish producer-director Tom Waller (“Mindfulness and Murder,” “The Last Executioner”) said it was developing a script that would focus on the Thai elements and the unsung heroes.

The rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from flooded caves about two miles beneath the mountains in Tham Luang provides plenty of rich source material: the heroic efforts of local and international divers, the clever use of technology, a race against time before summer rains delayed rescue attempts for months, the psychological hurdles that the boys will continue to face. The youths had all but given up hope before emerging to a media scrum and hospital quarantine, and commentators have been quick to suggest that their lives will never be the same again.

“The kids had no idea that the world’s eyes were watching,” Waller told Variety. “They even assumed they would have to ride their bikes home when they got out of the cave.”

Another angle could be the bizarre intervention of Tesla mogul Elon Musk, who tried to get involved with a mini-submarine. Musk became embroiled in a spat with one of the British rescuer divers, whom Musk described as a pedophile before being forced by public outrage to apologize.

The Thai government committee is to be headed by the National Film Broad and include officials from the culture, commerce, and tourism and sport ministries. “The committees will be concerned about the accuracy of the story, the rights of the [team], the rescuers and other related agencies, as well as the image of Thailand,” Rojpojchanarat said. “They will also be concerned about the impact of film production to the film locations. We are pleased to support both Thai and international film productions to make a movie and documentary on ‘Mu Pa’ [Wild Boars] if they follow Thai laws.”

Long a regional filmmaking hub, Thailand last year initiated a production rebate scheme in order to stay competitive with other locations. The scheme offers a 15% rebate of qualifying local production spend. The rebate figure can rise to 20% in the case of movies that promote national interests and provide a positive image of the country.

News of the proposed committee met with skepticism from online commentators. “It is really quite astonishing how many ministries and agencies can cling on to a passing bandwagon,” said JAG, on social media site Thaivisa. Others said that foreign producers had all the facts at hand and had no need to follow a government agenda, nor even to shoot in Thailand if permits and script approval processes became onerous.

Thailand’s ruling junta is understood to be keen for some good PR to rub off, especially for its all-important tourism industry, and ahead of planned elections in 2019. While the cave rescue was underway, the country suffered its deadliest civilian nautical tragedy when 47 Chinese tourists drowned after the Phoenix dive boat sank off Phuket after ignoring coast guard warnings of heavy seas. An ugly dispute has erupted, with the Thai authorities distancing themselves from responsibility and appearing to blame the boat’s Chinese owner or the tourists themselves.

After the 2012 hit film “Lost in Thailand,” the number of Chinese tourists swelled. Some 12 million Chinese visitors were expected to visit Thailand this year, but Thai media report that thousands of trips by Chinese visitors have been canceled since the Phoenix tragedy.

More Film

  • Stuber

    ‘Stuber’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with “Stuber.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.91 million through Sunday for 1,325 national ad airings on 42 networks. [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Box Office: 'Yesterday' Movie Takes on

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' and 'Yesterday' Take on 'Toy Story 4'

    The weekend box office has gone to the dolls. “Annabelle Comes Home,” a supernatural horror film about a possessed toy, is facing off against another band of plastic figurines: “Toy Story 4.” Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is expected to dominate box office charts again over newcomers “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Yesterday,” a fantasy musical set [...]

  • 'The Current War' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch,

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Feud in 'The Current War' Trailer (Watch)

    101 Studios has released an official new trailer for the Martin Scorcese-produced thriller, “The Current War,”  offering a glimpse into the dramatic 19th century battle over electricity that became known as the “war of the currents.” The film, which is a dramatization of real-life events, will follow the tumultuous journey of Thomas Edison, played by [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content