Out of the cave, onto the big screen: Hollywood has its sights on gripping Thai rescue

Thomas Maresca 
Rescue workers along the main road leading to Tham Luang Nang Non cave as the first 2 ambulances carrying 2 boys pass by on July 8, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Divers began an effort to pull the 12 boys and their soccer coach on Sunday morning after they were found alive in the cave at northern Thailand. 
Linh Pham | Getty Images

MAE SAI, Thailand – As the incredible saga of a youth soccer team’s rescue from a cave in northern Thailand comes to a conclusion, Hollywood is already pitching to bring the drama to the big screen.

A pair of American producers with ties to Thailand, Michael Scott and Adam Smith, have spent the last few days in the area around the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Chiang Rai province laying the groundwork for what they think will become a worldwide blockbuster.

“So often in the news, it’s so dark and gloomy and this is something that everybody can watch and be inspired by,” said Scott, who is managing partner of Pure Flix, a production company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Los Angeles.

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The company focuses on faith and inspirational movies, and Scott said this tale has all the ingredients for a major hit that will draw A-list talent.

“I think this film is such an inspiring story,” he said. “All the stuff that happened on the Thai side, you’ve got the international divers’ teams – I think it will attract some really incredible screenwriters, directors and actors to the project.”

Scott is married to a Thai woman and they spend part of the year in Thailand. He said that he had been following the events closely on television when a tragic turn struck a personal chord with his family that made him even more determined to tell the story.

His wife is a former classmate of Saman Kunan, the ex-Thai navy SEAL who died early Friday morning while  placing oxygen canisters underwater along the route to the stranded boys.

“My wife was shocked when she saw it on the news,” Scott said, adding that he planned to dedicate the film to Saman.

The producers say they are keeping a respectful distance from family members and rescue workers while the operation is still ongoing.

“Right now, we’re just finding out how the events unfolded and the most accurate way this story can be portrayed,” said Adam Smith, co-owner of Bangkok-based Kaos Entertainment, who is working with Scott as a consultant.

Scott’s credits include the 2014 film “God’s Not Dead,” which grossed $70 million worldwide. He sees the soccer team’s saga in the same vein of films such as “Sully,” which told the story of the airline captain who successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, and “The 33,” about the trapped Chilean miners who were rescued in 2010.

“People are interested in true stories, he said. “And now that we know that the boys are out, what an incredible story. I think this is something that everyone can watch and enjoy and be inspired by.”