EXCLUSIVE: Several bids are in on Thirteen Lives, a mid-budget drama that Ron Howard will direct from a William Nicholson (Gladiator and Unbroken) screenplay. There are a couple of competing projects percolating about the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue of the teens on the Thailand Wild Boar boys soccer team after they were led by their coach into the cave. They became trapped 1,000 meters below the surface by monsoon rains and came out in 2018 in a rescue effort that took the life of a retired Thai Navy SEAL whose oxygen ran out.
There’s a movie at Universal and Cavalry Media that has Free Solo filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi attached, and Netflix partnered with Crazy Rich Asians producer SK Global on a mini-series with Jon Chu that focuses on the kids. There’s also a NatGeo docu with Kevin MacDonald.
But sources who read the script by Nicholson see Thirteen Lives as another Apollo 13 for Howard. In both cases, the fact that you know the outcome doesn’t matter; you are on the edge of your seat for the entire movie, watching an impossible rescue attempt executed through ingenuity and collaboration from rescue workers around the world. All of this plays to Howard’s strengths as a filmmaker.
That tantalizing prospect is what got buyers hot and bothered and sources said this one will close quickly. The package shopped by CAA Media Finance is for a production commitment. Stay tuned.
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