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Jon M. Chu, Nattawut Poonpiriya Join Netflix’s Thai Cave Rescue Project

“Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu and Thai helmer Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya have boarded Netflix’s planned retelling of last year’s dramatic rescue of a boys’ soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Chu and Poonpiriya, who directed Asian hit film “Bad Genius,” are partnering with Netflix and SK Global Entertainment on the story after the 13 Thumluang Company Limited granted the streaming giant and SK Global rights to the saga, which Variety reported last month.

The project, which could be either a film or a miniseries, will follow the true story of how the 12 teammates and the coach of the Wild Boars soccer squad were rescued after being trapped for two weeks inside of the flooded Tham Luang caves near Chiang Mai, Thailand, during the summer of 2018.

“Like the rest of the world, we were riveted by the news of the Thai cave rescue. With the entire globe watching, this tragic human drama transformed into a beautiful, inspirational story of human beings saving other human beings. Not only did this show the best of the human spirit overcoming even the worst of circumstances, it proved that we are stronger when we work together,” said Chu, who will co-direct alongside Poonpiriya.

“Which is why, with the support of the Thai government and our partners at Netflix, SK Global and Starlight, we are honored and grateful to be able to share the full story of this massive, international effort in a unique multilingual format that will allow us to work with filmmakers from all around the world, like the amazingly talented Nattawut ‘Baz’ Poonpiriya, who understand the nuances and details of the local community in which this story unfolds,” he added.

In addition to co-directing, Chu will also serve as a producer alongside John Penotti and Chu’s producing partner Lance Johnson, under Chu and Johnson’s Electric Somewhere Company banner. Starlight Culture Entertainment Group will executive produce. Variety exclusively announced Chu’s involvement in a Thai cave rescue adaptation with SK Global’s Ivanhoe Pictures in July. Chu last partnered with Ivanhoe on “Crazy Rich Asians.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to thank the people and organizations from Thailand and around the world who came together to perform a true miracle, by retelling our story. We look forward to working with all involved parties to ensure our story is told accurately, so that the world can recognize, once again, the heroes that made the rescue operation a success,” said assistant coach Ekkapol “Coach Ake” Chantapong, spokesperson of 13 Thumluang Co. Ltd.

Numerous other films about the rescue have either already wrapped, like indie film “The Cave,” or are in the works. Universal Pictures is developing a movie after acquiring the life rights to Coach Ekkapol Chantawong, Dr. Richard Harris, Dr. Craig Challen, and the players on the Wild Boar soccer team back in September. Faith-based production company Pure Flix also has a film in the works, and Nat Geo is developing a documentary on the story.

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