Netflix is the first major studio to throw its name behind one of what was reportedly six movies in development about the Thai cave rescue mission.
Jon M. Chu, the director of Crazy Rich Asians, once said he wanted to tell this story to ensure Hollywood doesn’t whitewash history. As he mentioned on Twitter Tuesday morning, “This has already been quite a journey to get the official rights,” but he did it and now Netflix will release his movie with SK Global Entertainment, Thai filmmaker Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, and the support of the Thai government.
EW previously confirmed Chu and SK Global were in development on a feature film, but a press release for Netflix refers to this as a “project.” The final format, whether a film or a limited series, is unknown at this time.
“Like the rest of the world, we were riveted by the news of the Thai cave rescue,” Chu said in a statement, released Tuesday morning. “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. 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.”
On June 23, 2018, 12 boys from Thailand’s Wild Boars soccer team and their coach were trapped deep inside a cave after rising waters flooded the area. The highly publicized rescue mission took 18 days to complete and resulted in the death of a former Navy SEAL.
Discovery Channel fast-tracked a documentary on the Thai cave rescue mission as the events were unfolding in 2018. The faith-based Pure Flix Entertainment announced development on a scripted version of the events as the Associated Press reported six movies were in the works.
Poonpiriya, who will also serve as a director on this Netflix film with Chu, calls the movie “an opportunity for me as a filmmaker — and also a Thai citizen — to write a thank you letter to the rest of the world.”
Ekkapol Chantapong (“Coach Ake”) of the Wild Boars soccer team and a spokesperson of the 13 Thumluang Co. Ltd said, “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.”
“The Tham Luang rescue demonstrated mutual bravery, sacrifice, commitment and cooperation,” Lt. Gen. Werachon Sukondhapatipak, a Thai government spokesperson for the Committee for the Tham Luang Cave Mission in Chiang Rai Province, said in his own statement. “By working with Netflix, we will work to give people a deeper look into the events and people that made the whole world stop, watch and cheer in June and July 2018.”
Chu will serve as a producer with his producing partner Lance Johnson and SK Global CEO John Penotti. Starlight Culture Entertainment Group will executive produce.