On Thai Cave Rescue, An Inevitable Hollywood Movie Is Coming Soon

The jokes, groans and eye-rolls started on Twitter even before the announcement - replete with tongue-in-cheek casting predictions.

"How soon is too soon to start boycotting the Hollywood movie of the Thai cave rescue starring Mark Wahlberg?"

- Linda Ge

"The movie of the Thai boys trapped in the cave will star Matt Damon as all of the boys"

- Ketan Joshi

"Cave rescue is going to make an incredible movie, can't wait to see Scarlett Johansson inspire in her role as 12 Thai boys."

- djb

Then, on Wednesday, it was actually announced. The story that captivated the world about a boys soccer team and their coach being trapped in a cave in Thailand is going to be a major motion picture. Pure Flix Entertainment, the Christian film studio known for the "God's Not Dead" series, will produce it.

@KetanJ0 The movie of the Thai boys trapped in the cave will star Matt Damon as all of the boys
 
The jokes, groans and eye-rolls started on Twitter even before the announcement - replete with tongue-in-cheek casting predictions.

"How soon is too soon to start boycotting the Hollywood movie of the Thai cave rescue starring Mark Wahlberg?"

- Linda Ge

"The movie of the Thai boys trapped in the cave will star Matt Damon as all of the boys"

- Ketan Joshi

"Cave rescue is going to make an incredible movie, can't wait to see Scarlett Johansson inspire in her role as 12 Thai boys."

- djb

Then, on Wednesday, it was actually announced. The story that captivated the world about a boys soccer team and their coach being trapped in a cave in Thailand is going to be a major motion picture. Pure Flix Entertainment, the Christian film studio known for the "God's Not Dead" series, will produce it.

The announcement came the same day the last boy was rescued. The inevitable pushback was immediate, with writer and director Larry Charles tweeting:

"The Thai cave rescue reminds me of a post modern version of Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole. You've got Elon Musk grabbing attention with shameless self-promoting, trying to shill a new product AND a movie of the saga being announced before the kids are out of the hospital."

Drudge Report tweeted, "Hollywood producers already on scene plotting Thai cave movie" - the emphasis naturally falling on "already."

The speed with which an ongoing tragedy has been mined for intellectual property, as if it were an old Marvel comic book, might seem distasteful. But it isn't a particularly new phenomenon.

- - -

"Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Hurt Locker"

One of the most striking recent examples is "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's dramatization of United States government's hunt for and eventual killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. U.S. forces killed bin Laden on May 2, 2011, in what President Barack Obama called "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al-Qaida." The movie hit theaters in December 2012, barely a year and a half later.

That's a remarkable turnaround time. Bigelow, though, was no stranger to tackling fresh issues. She won six Oscars, including best director and best picture, for her 2008 movie "The Hurt Locker," which followed a U.S. bomb disposal team during the Iraq War. Though the movie was based on accounts of a journalist embedded in Iraq in 2004, it came out while the Iraq War was still underway.

"Patriots Day" and "Stronger"

The 2013 Boston marathon bombing, which killed three and injured hundreds more, was turned into two major, star-driven films.

First came "Patriots Day" in 2016. The Peter Berg movie depicts Mark Wahlberg as Boston Police Sgt. Tommy Saunders as he searches for the bombers in the attack's immediate aftermath.

Though movies based on recent tragedies are often subject to backlash, the reaction to "Patriots Day" was particularly fierce - especially in the Boston area. The movie, wrote Boston film critic Sean Burns, was "as disgraceful an exploitation of real-life tragedy as I've ever seen. Everyone involved in this movie should be ashamed of themselves."

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr was slightly more forgiving, calling it "slickly heartfelt" and "vaguely insulting."

A year later, "Stronger" hit theaters. Rather than focus on the police response, the David Gordon Green told the story of Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), a man who lost his legs in the bombing and was the subject of a famous photo from the day.

This one was much more warmly received, perhaps because it was based on Bauman's memoir. It "rises on the power of its well-chosen ensemble to offer an emotionally resonant fact-based story that transcends inspirational drama cliches," reads the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, where it earned a 92 percent "fresh" rating.

"United 93″ and "World Trade Center"

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States was, by far, the country's deadliest. Perhaps due to this wretched gravity, Hollywood waited a bit longer to cash in on the horror. But cash in it did, with a pair of back-to-back movies. "United 93″ and "World Trade Center" were both released in 2006, within four months of each other.

The first came in April, and as the title suggests, told the story of United 93 - the hijacked plane heading toward Washington, D.C., that crashed in Pennsylvania after its passengers attacked the hijackers. Paul Greengrass' account was met warmly by critics, but those connected to the actual event weren't as pleased.

"It was both excruciating and beautiful at the same time," Alice Hoagland, whose son was on the flight, told the San Francisco Chronicle. After Marjorie Kase, who lost three friends in the 9/11 attacks, unexpectedly saw a trailer, she echoed others in telling the paper, "I don't think the country is ready for this movie right now. We don't have enough perspective or hindsight on the matter."

Just as "United 93″ was coming out on DVD months later, Oliver Stone's account of first responders was hitting theaters amid far more mixed reviews - many of which deemed it exploitative.

The World Trade Center attacks are still being mined for the big screen. "9/11," starring Charlie Sheen and Whoopi Goldberg, came out just last year.

With each release, it seems, those directly affected by attacks are forced to relieve the horrid day. Bill Doyle, whose son was killed in the Twin Towers, was particularly angry after seeing advertisements for 2012's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," the Tom Hanks vehicle based on a Jonathan Safran Foer novel.

"Everybody's trying to make money off 9/11," he told the New York Post. "A lot of families got upset. Why couldn't they warn us about this? I don't think people really realized that these people are really still stressed."

"American Sniper"

A year after Chris Kyle -- the deadliest marksman in United States history who had 255 confirmed kills during four tours in Iraq -- died in 2013, the Oscar-winning, Clint Eastwood-helmed depiction of his life (and death) titled "American Sniper" hit theaters.

Made-for-TV movies

The timeline also tends to be even shorter when it comes to the made-for-TV movies. Consider this: In May 1993, Tim Daly portrayed David Koresh in a small screen flick about the standoff between the police and the Branch Davidians - which occurred less than a month earlier.

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Boys lost weight but in good health as Thai cave rescue restores faith

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from inside a flooded Thai cave lost an average of 2 kg (4 pounds) during their 17-day ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, a senior health official said on Wednesday.

Thais reacted with relief, gratitude and exhilaration after the last group of the “Wild Boars” soccer team was rescued from the Tham Luang cave, near the border with Myanmar, on Tuesday night, ending an ordeal that gripped Thailand and the world.

They were taken by helicopter to a hospital about 70 km (45 miles) away to join their team mates in quarantine for the time being.

“From our assessment, they are in good condition and not stressed. The children were well taken care of in the cave. Most of the boys lost an average of 2 kg,” Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, an inspector for Thailand’s health department, told reporters.

Parents of the first four boys freed on Sunday have been able to visit them but had to wear protective suits and stand 2 meters (7 feet) away as a precaution.

Thongchai said one from the last group rescued on Tuesday had a lung infection and they were all were given vaccinations for rabies and tetanus.

The group ventured into the vast cave complex in northern Thailand after soccer practice on June 23 and their rescue dominated front page headlines in Thailand.

“All Wild Boars Saved,” read one headline.

“Hooyah! Mission accomplished,” read another, echoing the rallying cry of the Thai navy SEALs involved in the rescue.

The hashtag #Hooyah was also hugely popular with Thai netizens wanting to show their support for the hundreds of rescuers, including divers from around the world, who helped to get the boys out.

Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn thanked people in Thailand and from around the world soon after the final rescues were completed. A senior Australian police officer acknowledged the degree of international cooperation “in a very unfriendly environment”.

“It is amazing what the human being can do. There are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Glenn McEwan, the Australian Federal Police’s Asia manager, told reporters in Chiang Rai.

(For a graphic on the Thai cave rescue click tmsnrt.rs/2KR2zRj)

‘AMAZING NEWS’

Audiences around the world cheered the team’s successful rescue after the saga generated messages of help, prayers and - finally - expressions of relief.

The drama in Thailand has even resonated as far as Russia, where soccer’s World Cup is reaching its final stages. Players from France and England welcomed news of the rescue and sent their best wishes to the “Wild Boars” on Twitter.

“This victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong,” French midfielder Paul Pogba tweeted after his team beat Belgium 1-0 overnight to reach the final.

Manchester City and England defender Kyle Walker, whose team faces Croatia in the second semi-final later on Wednesday, said he wanted to send shirts to the boys.

“Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely!” Walker tweeted.

A Google search on Tuesday for the words “Thai cave rescue” revealed 359 million results, with interest peaking since last week when British divers found the boys and the rescue mission began.

Araya Hargate, one of Thailand’s top actresses and a L’Oreal cosmetics brand ambassador, shared a cartoon of the boys surrounded by rescuers on her Instagram page, which has 7.9 million followers.

“After all ... the world is not such a bad place #humanityfaithrestored #thailandcaverescue,” the actress, known in Thailand as “Chompoo”, wrote.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the courage of the multinational rescue team, which was run by the Thai military, as “one of the most heroic and inspiring episodes of our time”.

“It’s hard to imagine anything more frightening than being trapped underground in the dark, let alone having your children trapped underground in the dark,” Turnbull told the Queensland Press Club.

 

  • Published in World

Rescuers Begin 'Challenging' Final Push To Free Last Five From Thai Cave

BANGKOK/CHIANG RAI: The third phase of an operation to rescue four remaining boys and their soccer coach trapped inside a flooded Thai cave began on Tuesday morning, the head of the rescue mission said.

Narongsak Osottanakorn told a news conference the latest rescue operation began at about 10:08 a.m. local time (0308 GMT).

"All five will be brought out at the same time today," he said, to cheers from reporters and rescue workers.

Rescue organisers said they needed 20 hours to replan and replenish oxygen supplies, with the next rescue mission expected to come some time on Tuesday afternoon. 

Highlights

  1. Four more boys rescued from Thailand's Tham Luang cave
  2. Now 8 people have been rescued, while 5 remain in the cave
  3. The remaining five will be brought out at the same time today

The plight of the boys and their coach has drawn international attention, with divers, engineers and medics among others flying in from around the world to assist.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the cave to inspect the operation and was quoted by Narongsak as saying he didn't want to see this kind of incident happen again on Thai soil.

The "Wild Boars" team became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the cave after soccer practice and rains flooded the tunnels.

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"Race Against Water" As Rain Threatens Thai Boys In The Cave

Mae Sai, Thailand: Thai rescuers on Thursday said they may be prodded into a complex extraction of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave if forecast rains hammer the mountainside and jeopardise the rescue mission.

Thirteen sets of diving equipment have been prepared for the team, who have endured 12 nights underground in the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand.

Water is being pumped out from the deluged cave round-the-clock, reducing the flooding by one centimetre an hour.

But with rain forecast to begin on Friday, the Chaing Rai provincial governor helming the unprecedented rescue effort conceded the mission was now "a race against the water".

"Our biggest concern is the weather. We are calculating how much time we have if it rains, how many hours and days," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, without providing further details.

In a sign of increased urgency, Narongsak said medics and Thai navy SEAL divers are assessing whether the boys are fit and well enough to be taken out early -- apparently softening his instance on Wednesday that "no risk" will be taken with the evacuation.

The prospect of the stranded team diving out is fraught with risk.

It takes seasoned cave diving experts around six hours to reach the muddy ledge where the boys are sheltering.

Many of the youngsters -- who are aged between 11-16 -- are unable to swim and none have diving experience.

Thai navy SEAL experts are teaching them the basics of diving.

But the areas where diving is still necessary are tight and may require the boys to swim through murky waters unaccompanied.

In a two-pronged strategy, cavers are also hunting for a chimney down to the boys, creating a potential second option for evacuation in the event heavy rains force their hand.

Authorities still hope they can manage any fresh deluge, with high-powered pumps draining 128 million litres (34 million gallons) of water so far from the cave in a round-the-clock effort.

"We are draining as much as we can," said Khao Khieupakdi a a Bangkok disaster prevention official, seconded to northern Thailand like scores of other specialists.

Water has been cleared from the entrance to a rescue base camp in "chamber three" inside the cave, but onward sections towards the boys remain impassable without diving, he said.

"I am concerned as the forecast said is for more rain."

Days in the dark

Concerns for the mental and physical health of the boys are mounting after a prolonged ordeal in the dark, claustrophobic cave complex.

Experts say the risk of psychological damage is high for youngsters trapped in traumatic conditions, while the lack of light may cause confusion.

British cave divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group on Monday, huddled on a muddy shelf with flood waters lapping ominously below, after nine days missing.  

Several Thai navy divers and medics are staying with them and fresh video footage released on Wednesday showed the group in seemingly good spirits.

"They cannot do anything... they have to save energy," army Major General Bancha Duriyaphan.

"They are chit-chatting in general. Talking, eating and sleeping," he said.

  • Published in World

Dramatic Footage Of 12 Boys Found In Cave 9 Days After They Were Trapped

Mae Sai, Thailand: Dramatic footage was released early Tuesday of an emaciated and bedraggled Thai youth football team crammed onto a wedge of dry ground surrounded by water deep inside a cave that has held them captive for nine days.

The group, mostly seated and with baggy football shirts pulled over their knees and illuminated by torchlight, asked for food and to leave the cave immediately, according to the video taken late Monday and shared on the official Facebook page of the Thai Navy SEALS.

In the video an unidentified diver, speaking with a British accent, urges the group to stay calm and says "many, many people are coming... we are the first".

The group appeared exhausted, rake thin, sensitive to the light but lucid, with some speaking faltering English to try to communicate with the unidentified diver.

tham luang chiang rai thailand cave rescue afpThailand Cave Rescue: A family member shows a picture of four of the twelve missing boys near the Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai on July 2, 2018 (AFP)

A voice confirms there all 13 people who went missing last Saturday are on the slope of land.

tham luang chiang rai thailand cave rescue afpThailand Rescue: Family members celebrate while camping out near Tham Luang cave following news all members of children's football team and their coach were alive in the cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province late July 2, 2018 (AFP)

One child asks "what day?" and another says "we are hungry.. shall we go outside?"

tham luang chiang rai thailand cave rescue afpDramatic footage was released early Tuesday of an emaciated and bedraggled Thai youth football team crammed onto a wedge of dry ground surrounded by water inside Tham Luang cave (AFP)

The diver replies "I know, I understand... no, not today.

tham luang chiang rai thailand cave rescue afpA technician (C) smiles near the drill site at the entrance of Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on late July 2, 2018 (AFP)

"You have been here for 10 days, you are very strong."

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