Hollywood, unsurprisingly, has already jumped on the still-fresh story of the ordeal of 12 boys and their soccer coach in Thailand, who were rescued from a miles-deep underwater mountain cave; news that might generate mixed feelings about the film industry, especially since the harrowing life-and-death scenario was only resolved on July 10, just two days ago. However, a prominent Asian-American director in Jon M. Chu has thrown his hat into the ring for said project, citing plans to mitigate the controversial casting practice known as whitewashing.
Ivanhoe Pictures is in talks with the Thai government and Navy to adapt the real-life international headline-making ordeal as a movie. Ivanhoe is already the second company to have been granted permission, with faith-based company Pure Flix Entertainment (of the God’s Not Dead films,) landing first. However, the L.A.-based Ivanhoe is tapping into talent that’s close to home in Jon M. Chu, whose August-scheduled comedy Crazy Rich Asians was co-produced by parent company SK Global (a South Korean energy corporation).
With the crucial acquisition of Chu – known as the director of Now You See Me 2, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the Step Up sequels – Ivanhoe’s version of the Thai Cave Rescue story will likely manifest as the more prominent picture amongst what could become an array of adaptations. Consequently, would-be director Chu is already reading the Riot Act on the notion of whitewashing (the common Hollywood practice of casting white actors – typically big name stars – for non-white roles). As Chu explains in a tweet on his intent for the project.
“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.”
As if the story needed to be refreshed, the Thai rescue operation in question started back on June 23 when 12 members of a boys’ soccer team and their coach went on a fateful session of spelunking in the Doi Nang Non mountain range in northern Thailand, leading to a situation in which they became trapped 2.5 miles from the entrance, separated by dark underwater stretches. The ensuing rescue operation by the Thai Navy would last 18 days, captivating the entire world in the media coverage. While the successful rescue of the entire party occurred before Elon Musk’s touted mini submarine could be deployed, the story, nevertheless, came to a happy conclusion.
We’ll provide more details on Jon Chu’s Thai Cave Rescue film as they become available.
*Correction: An earlier version of the article mistakenly stated that Ivanhoe had received permission by the Thai government. The talks are still ongoing.