It was a day few thought would ever come. The last child emerged from the cave to resounding cheers heard around the world. Everyone one of the boys and their coach were alive and safe. The only fatality: a former Navy SEAL who drowned trying to reach them.
It was a time that should have focused on celebration. But in Hollywood, it was a time for business.
Just fourteen hours later, Pure Flix, a Christian-focused movie company, announced that a movie about the rescue was on the way. Of course, there was no writer or director. No script or title. They don’t even have the movie rights secured. Nope, these folks are going by faith.
Twenty-four hours after that, Ivanhoe Pictures announced that it too was working on a movie about the rescue. It had a director – Jon M. Chu of Now You See Me and the somewhat offensively titled Crazy Rich Asians. This team is already in talks with government officials about the deal.
So after the story all-but blanketed the news media for 17 days, after dozens of parents, government officials, and so-called experts shared their comments, apparently there’s still a need for Hollywood to put its spin on the drama. Because this is a story full of heroes. And Hollywood loves a hero. Multiples? Even better.
But is it necessary? And will they do it justice?
How many heroic rescue stories have hit the big screen successfully? In 2017, Only the Brave was “based on” the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who risk everything to protect a town from a historic wildfire. It received lukewarm reviews and was attacked by some for its disrespectful fake movie drama instead of telling the real stories.
A recent movie about the Chilean miners trapped for two months underground was another theatrical failure. And despite a lot of promotion, not one but two films about the Boston Marathon bombing, Stronger and Patriots, failed to impress at the box office.
Do we really want to see the pain and trauma of real life after we’ve lived through it? Apparently, many moviegoers said “No.”
Instead, they want blockbuster disasters that are so fake they’re fun. That’s why we don’t mind two hours of Dwayne the Rock Johnson burning down a skyscraper. It doesn’t hurt.
Of course, I have to wonder how successful Pure Flix will be in acquiring the movie rights, anyway. This is a Christian movie company trying to produce a film about a team of boys trapped in a cave that was a shrine to Buddah. You can almost taste the irony.
The strength and resilience of these boys and their rescuers are an inspiration to the world. So I’d love to know about the individuals involved in the Thai rescue. I’d like to read, in their own words what each individual did, and said, and felt without hype or hyperbole.
And that’s not going to happen in a Hollywood movie by Ivanhoe Pictures or anybody else.