The rescue of 12 young boys stranded in a flooded cave occupied worldwide headlines for nearly three weeks earlier this month, and now Thailand’s military government is hoping to hold the globe’s gaze on its own terms as multiple productions are in development to bring the harrowing true-life story to the big screen.
With growing interest from foreign and domestic companies seeking to adapt the rescue mission for theatrical audiences, Thailand Culture Minister Vira Rojpochanarat has announced he will propose a special committee to oversee the production of the films, documentaries, and videos depicting the three-week ordeal, the Associated Press reported following a film board meeting Thursday.
The Thailand Film Office enforces existing regulations on movies shot in the region by foreign outfits, which the AP reports includes vetting scripts and doling out permits for rolling cameras, though Rojpochanarat’s proposed committee would additionally crack down on protecting the privacy of those involved with the boys’ recovery — including the victims.
Rojpochanarat’s decision comes after Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam admitted intense international scrutiny of the event leads him to believe foreign media “may not know the consequences of our child protections laws” and that he’ll consider “legal proceedings against foreigners” after several news outlets supposedly ignored official advice from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to leave the boys alone for at least a month to avoid post-traumatic psychological distress during their mental rehabilitation.
Rojpochanarat and Wissanu revealed five foreign films (some scripted, others nonfiction) about the Tham Luang Nang Non cave rescue — which saw the youth members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach rescued from subterranean entrapment after flooding from heavy rains blocked their exit for 18 days — are in the works. They also indicated several members involved in the potential productions have visited the site to gather information for their respective projects, including a Thai company that has yet to formally contact the government.
“This (story) has all the right elements,” Rojpochanarat said. “If you talk about drama associated with filmmaking, it has everything. It has loss as well as jubilation. The content and story it has for filmmaking is very complete. Even if you don’t create additional drama, these events had every flavor.”
Thai officials did not name all companies seeking to produce films about the cave rescue. Among those who’ve publicly expressed interest in crafting dramatic retellings of the story are Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu and faith-based studio Pure Flix, which has released several low-budget hits for Christian audiences (notably the God’s Not Dead series) in the recent past.
“The bravery and heroism I’ve witnessed is incredibly inspiring, so, yes, this will be a movie for us,” Pure Flix CEO and co-founder Michael Scott told The Hollywood Reporter in early July, noting the film would likely carry a budget between $30 million and $60 million and be released by the company’s mainstream banner Pinnacle Peak. “This isn’t just about a movie, it’s about honoring everybody involved, including the soldier who died.”
On the non-fiction front, the Discovery Channel fast-tracked the television documentary Operation Thai Cave Rescue for broadcast last weekend. A children’s book on the rescue is also slated to be released next March.