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Thailand cave movie: Hollywood producers already on the scene

Tuesday - 10/07/2018 17:18
HOLLYWOOD producers have arrived in Thailand and are already plotting a movie about the young boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave — before they’re all out.
British cave-diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening in the mountain during the rescue operation in Tham Luang cave, Chiang Rai on June 29. Picture: Krit Phromsakla Na Sakolnakorn/AFP/ Thai NewsSource:AFP
British cave-diver Robert Charles Harper explores an opening in the mountain during the rescue operation in Tham Luang cave, Chiang Rai on June 29. Picture: Krit Phromsakla Na Sakolnakorn/AFP/ Thai NewsSource:AFP

“THIS will make a great movie some day.”

It’s a sentiment that’s echoed around the globe as millions of people watch on and champion the ongoing rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach stuck in a Thailand cave, in the country’s north.

But for some Hollywood producers, there’s no time to waste, and “some day” may as well be now.

A US film crew has already arrived at the foothills of the Tham Luang mountain cave system in Chiang Rai province as one of the world’s most daring rescue operations enters its third day. Divers are expected to today attempt to bring 25-year-old coach Ekkapol “Aek” Chantawong and the remaining four boys — aged 11 to 16 — to safety in a dangerous and highly complex operation.

One Navy SEAL has already died trying to save the team which became trapped in a dark, flooded chamber on June 23 and has been imprisoned for more than two weeks. Eight of the boys have been rescued over the past two days and are recovering in a nearby hospital.

Meanwhile, two American producers are already plotting a movie project about the Wild Boars youth soccer team and their coach in anticipation of global box office success.

Pure Flix films managing partner Michael Scott told AAP in Chiang Rai, “I see this as a major Hollywood film with A-list stars”.

Mr Scott and co-producer Adam Smith have been conducting preliminary interviews around the Tham Luang cave site, where a final push is now underway to complete the rescue of the group of 13 who became trapped in the caves by rising flood waters more than two weeks ago.

Mr Scott and Mr Smith also plan to bring in a screenwriter and interview key players from the team of foreign rescuers and Thai Navy SEALS, the victims and their families and seek exclusive rights to their stories.

Asked if their actions might be seen as insensitive at such a delicate time, Mr Smith said: “There’s going to be other production companies coming in so we have to act pretty quickly.” So far, eight of the boys, aged 11 to 16 years, have successfully been brought to the surface by a daisy chain of divers who guided them through 4km of narrow, murky water-filled passages.

The boys and their soccer coach as they were found in a partially flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, on July 2, 2018. Picture: Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP.
The boys and their soccer coach as they were found in a partially flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, on July 2, 2018. Picture: Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP.Source:AP

 

An ambulance leaves the Tham Luang cave area as rescue operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 10, 2018. Picture: Ye Aung Thu/AFP
An ambulance leaves the Tham Luang cave area as rescue operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 10, 2018. Picture: Ye Aung Thu/AFPSource:AFP

 

Another young boy is rescued from the cave and put into an ambulance bound for Chiang Rai hospital on July 9, 2018. Picture: Dan Charity/ The Sun.
Another young boy is rescued from the cave and put into an ambulance bound for Chiang Rai hospital on July 9, 2018. Picture: Dan Charity/ The Sun.Source:Supplied

The journey takes the divers about 11 hours to get in and out. Another attempt will be made later on Tuesday to try to get the remaining boys and the coach out.

The rescue team being lead by Thai authorities includes a number of foreigners, including Australians and Adelaide anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris, a seasoned rescue diver.

Mr Scott, who’s married to a Thai woman and spends three months a year in Thailand, said they are not pressing people over the interviews.

“I’ve told them once this has died down let’s really sit down and have a more in-depth interview on what’s really happening,” he said.

Pure Flix is based in Scottsdale, Arizona and Los Angeles and describes itself as a faith and family production and distribution film company. Its biggest film so far is God’s not Dead (2014), which made close to $US70 million worldwide produced on a budget of $US2 million.

Thai rescue teams wade through the cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Picture: Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP.
Thai rescue teams wade through the cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Picture: Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP.Source:AP

 

 
Australian Federal Police and Defence Force personnel talk with a Thai diver after the 12 boys and their soccer coach were found alive in a flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Picture: Sakchai Lalit/AP
Australian Federal Police and Defence Force personnel talk with a Thai diver after the 12 boys and their soccer coach were found alive in a flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Picture: Sakchai Lalit/APSource:AP

Mr Scott believes the cave rescue story, which will be centred around the two British divers who discovered the boys, is the perfect project for Pure Flix. “This just kind of fits our DNA in terms of a really inspirational story,” he said during an interview conducted late Monday.

“It’s got incredible heart, incredible acts of heroism and bravery. It’s just an incredible thing and we think it will inspire millions around the world.”

Mr Smith, who also runs KAOS Entertainment in Bangkok, said “it’s apolitical, it has no agenda. Everyone is on the same page and everyone is rooting for them”.

Mr Scott said once a “name” screenwriter was on board, production was expected to start production in late 2019. News.com.au has contacted the film crew for further comment.

National Cave Rescue Mission co-ordinator Anmar Mirza yesterday told CBS News it would be difficult to recreate the story as a movie.

“You can’t make a horror movie that would even compare,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in cave rescue for 30 years and I cannot even think of one that is this complicated.”

— With AAP

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

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