Just one day after a group of 12 boys were miraculously rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand, the film industry is already preparing to adapt their story of survival for the big screen.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter from the scene in Thailand shortly after an extensive, multi-day mission to extract the Wild Boars youth soccer team and their adult coach ended Tuesday, Michael Scott — CEO and co-founder of the faith-based studio Pure Flix Entertainment — revealed that the production outfit will build a scripted feature around the story.
“The bravery and heroism I’ve witnessed is incredibly inspiring, so, yes, this will be a movie for us,” he told the publication, indicating the film would likely carry a budget between $30 million and $60 million and be released by the company’s mainstream banner Pinnacle Peak, which is gearing up to release a contemporary retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s popular novel Little Women on Sept. 28. Scott is also seeking to hire screenwriters in the coming weeks alongside his coproducer Adam Smith of Kaos Entertainment.
While Pure Flix has released a slate of successful, low-budgeted, Christian-leaning films in the past (most notably the God’s Not Dead series, the first of which grossed $60.8 million on a $2 million budget in 2014), Scott said it’s not “necessary” to make the planned Thai rescue film a “Christian one, just an inspirational one.”
Scott has reportedly spoken to several of the 90 divers involved in the rescue efforts, as well as the families of the rescued boys, as he — a part-time resident of Thailand — frequently visited the Tham Luang Nang Non cave site where they boys were trapped for 18 days. Initially reported missing on June 23, the group was later found alive by a squad of cave diving experts on July 2, and rescue efforts began shortly thereafter. Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL, died from asphyxiation during the operation.
“This isn’t just about a movie, it’s about honoring everybody involved, including the soldier who died,” Scott continued, adding that the film will likely shoot in the region. “This was truly a team effort involving Brits, Aussies, Americans and Thais, and the divers told us incredible stories. They had less than five meters visibility, fought harsh currents and used a buddy system of two divers for each boy rescued. It was a monumental effort.”
On the non-fiction front, the Discovery Channel has fast-tracked a television documentary chronicling the incident. Titled Operation Thai Cave Rescue, the hourlong special is set to air this Friday, July 13 at 10:00 p.m. ET, followed by an encore presentation Saturday, July 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET on the Science Channel.
Pure Flix did not immediately respond to EW’s request for more details on their as-yet-untitled theatrical production. Read THR’s full interview with Scott here.