Rescue personnel work at the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand July, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Source: Reuters
AT least two Hollywood production companies are looking into putting the dramatic rescue of the “Wild Boars” soccer team on the big screen but social media is abuzz with the potential whitewashing of the proposed film.
Rescuers freed the last four boys and their adult coach from the deep flooded Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai on Tuesday, and already Pure Flix and Ivanhoe Pictures and have publicly stated their intention of telling the riveting tale.
The movie would comparable to the 2015 film “The 33” starring Antonio Banderas, detailing the 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for over three months.
Pure Flix’s Managing Partner Michael Scott, who resides in Thailand and went on site during the rescue operation took to Twitter on Tuesday to make the company’s announcement on the movie.
“I couldn’t be more excited. This story has meant so much to me as I have followed it in Thailand this summer,” he said in a video posted on the microblogging site.
“My wife actually grew up with the Thai Navy SEAL that died in the cave. To see all that heroic bravery in the cave, and to get all the divers out, it’s just such a touching event and so personal to me.”
“It’s Thai, Westerners, Europeans, Aussies – people from all over the world who helped bring these kids to safety,” Scott told Reuters. “I think there is a worldwide appeal which I think will inspire millions across the globe.”
But days before Scott’s announcement, many Twitter users have begun joking about the likeliness of a full-blown whitewashing of the movie, coming up with their own ideas as to who should be part of the cast.
One particular actress seems to be getting the most mentions among users.
i hope scarlett johansson plays all 12 thai boys and their coach in the film adaptation
— lolly (@lollyadefope) July 10, 2018
Scarlett Johansson just announced to play Thai soccer coach. pic.twitter.com/91ivvslgf4
— Gary Janetti (@GaryJanetti) July 10, 2018
Scarlett Johansson’s already rehearsing the role of the Thai navy SEAL team leader in the film about the cave rescue mission.
— Stretch Armstrong (@StretchArmy) July 10, 2018
scarjo already printing copies of her resume to play all 12 boys and their coach for the thai cave rescue film adaptation
— angela (@captaindeadpooI) July 11, 2018
I can’t wait to see the Oscar winning movie about the Thai Soccer team stuck in the cave that will inevitably be about an all white lacrosse team that gets stuck in a cave in Cabo staring Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton and a Thai person with a one line walk on role
— Dewayne “Not Dwayne” Perkins (@DewaynePerkins) July 11, 2018
While most users did not state why they picked on Scarlett Johannson, the reason behind it is likely due to her controversial lead role in 2017 film The Ghost in The Shell, which is based on the Japenese Manga of the same name.
And while Johannson appears to be the butt of most of the jokes, other Hollywood A-listers were not spared as well.
Oh wow the thai cave rescue actually gonna get a movie. Calling it, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon or Channing Tatum gonna get a role
— Augustine Tan (@gustinex) July 12, 2018
How much you wanna bet the movie about the Thai cave rescue will have the coach being played by Mark Wahlberg?
— Andrew Arroyo (@LumberShnazz) July 12, 2018
Really looking forward to the movie adaptation of the Thai football team’s rescue in which Mark Wahlberg plays the American who saved them all
— Olly Richards (@olly_richards) July 10, 2018
How soon is too soon to start boycotting the Hollywood movie of the Thai cave rescue starring Mark Wahlberg?
— Linda Ge (@lindazge) July 10, 2018
Despite the online brickbats, Ivanhoe Pictures’ John M. Chu, who directed upcoming film “Crazy Rich Asians,” said he would be sensitive to the diversity in the story.
“I refuse to let Hollywood #whitewashout the Thai Cave rescue story!” Chu said on Twitter.
Chu, a Chinese-American born in California, added: “There’s a beautiful story abt human beings saving other human beings. So anyone thinking abt the story better approach it right & respectfully.”
However, the Thai saga could be a challenging and costly affair.
First, filmmakers need to secure the rights from each of the boys’ families, the coach, and any rescuers they want to portray in order to get their firsthand accounts of what happened. The boys range in age from 11 to 16.
Scenes of divers extracting the teenagers were also bound to be expensive.
The Thai rescue may also draw interest from TV networks, which could provide a quicker path to the screen. In the meantime, news programming is feeding public appetite for the story.
On Tuesday, US television network ABC aired a special edition of “20/20” focused on the mission, and the Discovery Channel announced it would air a one-hour documentary on Friday.
Additional reporting by Reuters