Hollywood is already poised to exploit Thailand cave rescue

A group of onlookers

“This will make a great movie someday.”

It was a sentiment echoed around the globe as millions of people watched the rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach stuck in a Thailand cave.

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

A US film crew had 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 entered its third day. Divers brought 25-year-old coach Ekkapol “Aek” Chantawong and the remaining four boys — ages 11 to 16 — to safety in a dangerous and highly complex operation Tuesday.

One Thai navy SEAL died trying to save the team that became trapped in a dark, flooded chamber on June 23 and had been imprisoned for more than two weeks. Eight of the boys had already been rescued over the previous 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.”

Scott and co-producer Adam Smith have been conducting preliminary interviews around the Tham Luang cave site.

Scott and 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. They’re also planning to seek exclusive rights to their stories.

Asked if their actions might be seen as insensitive at such a delicate time, Smith said: “There’s going to be other production companies coming in, so we have to act pretty quickly.”

The rescue team led by Thai authorities included a number of foreigners, including Australians and Adelaide anesthetist Dr. Richard Harris, a seasoned rescue diver.

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,” which came out in 2014. The film made close to $70 million worldwide and was produced on a budget of $2 million.

Scott believes the cave rescue story, which will be centered 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 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.”

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

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

National Cave Rescue Mission coordinator 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.”

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