A film about the 2018 Thai soccer team cave rescue helmed by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu is underway at Netflix. The world was held rapt back in the summer of 2018 when 12 members of a junior soccer team and their coach exploring Thailand’s Tham Luang Nang Non cave were trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave and blocked their exit. The team and their coach were stranded for 18 days before they were finally rescued. Miraculously all 13 of them survived the ordeal.
Just a day after the boys and coach were rescued from the cave Michael Scott, the CEO and co-founder of Pure Flix, announced that a film about the rescue mission was already underway at the Christian production company. Another movie about the harrowing incident and rescue mission helmed by Thai-Irish director Tom Waller and titled The Cave is also underway, and set for a September release in Thailand.
According to Deadline, Netflix and Chu are now confirmed to be hopping on the bandwagon after Netflix joined forces with SK Global Entertainment and secured the rights to the story from the 13 Thumluang Company that was set up to represent the boys and their soccer coach. Chu first announced his intention to adapt the rescue mission for the big screen on Twitter last July with an impassioned tweet about not whitewashing the story. He'll be joined by co-director Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, whose past credits include the critically acclaimed 2017 Thai heist film Bad Genius, and Starlight Culture Entertainment Group will executive produce. Whether Netflix will tell the story as a film or miniseries is undecided as of yet.
I refuse to let Hollywood #whitewashout the Thai Cave rescue story! No way. Not on our watch. That won’t happen or we’ll give them hell. There’s a beautiful story abt human beings saving other human beings. So anyone thinking abt the story better approach it right & respectfully.— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) July 11, 2018
The two co-directors certainly seem excited about the project. Poonpiriya called 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.” Chu, who's also currently executive producer on TV drama Good Trouble and set to direct a big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical In The Heights, stated:
“Like the rest of the world, we were riveted by the news of the Thai cave rescue. 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.”
Though the films Chu has directed in the past few years, including G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Jem and the Holograms and Now You See Me 2, haven’t exactly faired well with critics, his most recent effort Crazy Rich Asians was hugely popular and currently ranks as the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the decade. The upturn in Chu’s career represented by Crazy Rich Asians alongside his passionate tweet linked above from last year bode well for this particular adaptation. Add in the talents of co-director Poonpiriya and the Netflix film might well be a success - if the story is handled sensitively and appropriately, of course.