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Christian film producers plan movie about Thai cave rescue

Thai officers prepare to head to an entrance of a cave rescue area to pick up belongings in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

NEW YORK (AP) — The boys are out of the cave. Now Hollywood wants in.

The producers behind Christian films like “God’s Not Dead” are already in Thailand with plans to develop a movie about the 18-day saga of the soccer team trapped in a flooded cave. Though the drama of headline-grabbing rescues often doesn’t carry over to the big screen, Pure Flix Entertainment co-founder Michael Scott believes the story about the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach is ripe for movie adaptation.

“We realized that this would make an incredibly inspiring movie,” Scott said Wednesday (July 11), speaking by phone from Thailand. “Like a lot of people, we know there’s not a lot of positive news in the world today.”

Scott said he feels a personal connection with the story. His wife is Thai and he said he was spending the summer in Bangkok when the soccer team went missing. Scott and fellow producer Adam Smith recently traveled to the area around the cave in northern Thailand, and they have begun talking to some of the participants about their “life rights.”

But they also stressed that they aren’t yet pursuing most of the families of the boys, who on Wednesday remained recuperating in a hospital.

“For us it’s not a huge race,” said Smith. “It’s about making sure we get the authenticity right.”

Many hurdles await. Most films that enter development never get produced, and the producers are just beginning to seek a screenwriter. Other film production companies will surely show interest, and they could leapfrog ahead with a larger production.

And while the Arizona-based Pure Flix has found some success with low-budget Christian films (“The Case for Christ”) and conservative documentaries (“Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party”), it’s far from a Hollywood heavyweight. Others in TV and film are already looking to capitalize. Discovery has scheduled a one-hour documentary special to debut Friday.

But Pure Flix hopes it can beat any fiction-film rush.

“I don’t think this is a religious film,” said Scott. “I think this is an inspirational film.”

There’s also some reason to doubt the box-office appeal of the tale. Ripped-from-headlines movies have not been setting the world on fire. Though Clint Eastwood’s “Sully” was a success, his 2018 docudrama about the 2015 Thalys train attack, “The 15:17 to Paris,” disappointed. Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” (2016) was the director’s worst-performing release. Peter Berg’s 2016 big-budget drama about the 2010 oil rig explosion “Deepwater Horizon” likewise fizzled.

The best comparison would be 2015’s “The 33,” about the 2010 mining disaster in Chile that trapped 33 miners for two months. Though boasting a starry cast of Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin and Juliette Binoche, it made barely a blip at the box office, with $24.9 million worldwide.

(Jake Coyle is an AP film writer.)

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  • The producer believes the story is “ripe for movie adaptation.”
    You spelled “exploitation” wrong.
    Just curious what Pure Profit’s angle is going to be here. At most I’ve found that the *parents* of *one* child are Christians. Thailand, never having been colonized by the European powers, is not veryChristian at all (1.2% of population as of 2015 census). And as discussed in the other article today about the caves, they seem to have a Buddhist/Hindu/folk religion connection.

  • This region of Northern Thailand is my wife’s original home and we are regular visitors. It’s basically a devout Buddhist heartland of Southeast Asia. So I don’t see how anyone could make this cave story about Baby Jesus. The trapped boys and coach did a lot of Buddhist mediation while waiting for rescuers.

    But, anyhow, nothing really spiritual happened here. That particular cave is very well known and mapped, I’ve been there myself. They knew if the trapped kids were alive, exactly where they must be…and sure enough they were found where expected. After that, just a lot of hard work by divers and the unsung heroes, the water pump brigades — worked long hours to get everybody out.

    Perspiration, not inspiration was key. But I imagine some Christian really thinks this is a miracle Jesus story. But they would be charlatans as usual.

  • Nope…it was Buddha who helped get them out…was Jesus’s fault for getting them stuck there in the first place — you know, God playing that flood trick again

    But now, Buddha was wise to plan, and intervened…sending God, Jesus and Holy-Spirit scurrying away like Iron Chariots were after them !!

  • Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

  • A “twit”is nothing…in Thailand, if you knew what happens to missionaries that have the misfortune of running into me…you would be calling me a lot worse !!

    …The Mormons in Thailand on their bikes live in terror of me and my Yamaha motorcycle…and the Baptists get their belief in Satan reinforced !!

  • So Jesus rescued those non-christian kids but in the future they’ll be sent to Hell if they don’t become Christians?

  • Exactly…why not take them to heaven now and tell them Buddhism is all wrong — then introduce them to Jesus.

    Instead, like 99% of other Thai people, now they will likely die Buddhist, resulting in eternal damnation. Sigh!!

  • What? Are you saying that he wasn’t a gift from Christ to those poor kids? He gave his life to help them – same as Someone else I know.

  • Yeah but the Seal diver did something useful for these trapped boys, unlike the other grandstander.

  • yes. Christ has an excellent means of making Himself known, which is why the world is condemned Jim. They have no excuse for not acknowledging Him.

  • They don’t want to go to heaven. They would rather reappear in another hopefully improved life and continue to do this forever or until they grow to the highest level and reach enlightenment.

  • Good question Jim. The answer is “Yes”, of course. Picture this: Here come the brave Thai SEAL forces, ready to die to get those trapped kids out of the dark cave before the rains destroy them. But when the first SEAL arrives, the coach and all the kids say,

    “No thanks, we totally refuse your offer to rescue us from this dark cave. We like it right here. We don’t believe a word you say about any monsoon rain threat. We see no evidence that our lives are in immediate danger, we don’t believe your testimony, and we have nice yummy snacks with us. WE will stay just as long as WE want, thank you. You can offer us more snacks or flashlights if you wish. But you can’t force us to leave, we like it here, and we absolutely refuse to leave.”

    Well, that’s how we humans tend to respond to Jesus, isn’t it? We know about John 3:16 and Rom. 6:23. We know that we’re locked and trapped in a dark cave, and that our own sin will one day do something VERY terrible to us. Yet we have the nerve to tell the one and only Source Of Rescue, that we don’t need rescuing, and we ain’t in no hurry either. Even when it’s raining.

  • Let me assure you, my in-law family in Northern Thailand and almost everybody else there does not have a clue about Jesus, John 3:16, Romans or anything else about the Bible…and would look at you like you’re crazy if you tried some Christian testimony for them !!

    Somehow Jesus did not get the message out in Northern Thailand…but Buddha from India converted 99% of them !!

  • Umm, it’s “Pure Flix”, not “Pure Profit.” Nothing to be suspicious about. We’ve both met enough Christian folks whose only “motive” for anything is to reach people for Jesus Christ, whether one calls it proselytization or evangelism. Like these guys — just wanting to publicly give God the credit for a miracle rescue. (Some of the comments in this thread illustrate the need for such an emphasis.)

    By the way, during the crisis, that one time-interval of lesser or little rain DID seem like a bit more than a co-inky-dink, no?

    Meanwhile, Pure Flix HAD to toss their hat in the ring right now, because the secular media filmmakers are locking on fast. Once the last kid was safe, it was/is a media foot race. Wouldn’t be surprised if Lifetime tries to milk a grade-B (or C, or D, or likely F) movie out of it.

  • But (may I humbly suggest), YOU already know about Jesus, John 3:16, salvation, right? Plus you have some good familiarity with Thai Buddhism and Thai culture as well, yes?

    So if you were to get hooked up with Jesus by faith, if you were to put all your eggs in His basket, maybe He could eventually create a route (or perhaps a second or third route) into Northern Thailand. It might only take one interested person to make the jump — would that person be yourself?

  • The creator is written on our hearts. Everyone is made aware of who he is at some point; by tradition or by nature. It is up to each person to accept him or not.

  • No, read my post further below…where I, and others, run the sunburned western missionaries out of the villages. Everybody is so sick of missionaries there, that cars and motorbikes regularly sport the ubiquitous “Missionaries Suck” bumper sticker.

    Alas, the Baptists, I notice, are mostly there for a free vacation anyhow. You see them stumbling into the massage joints at the night bazaars — hypocrites as usual — don’t tell the SBC where the mission $$ is going.

    Bicycle riding Mormons who ask, myself an English speaker, for directions…I always direct to the Muslim quarter in the large towns…good luck getting converts there! Mormons hate the farm villages, rife with home-brew Mekong whiskey. But, Catholics, like me, (ex-Catholic of course) love the whiskey !!

  • Y9ou’re no better than a goddamned terrorist. Stop forcing your goddamned religion on others.

  • Hmmmm…..I would say you are doing the same thing. Does that make you a hypocrite Canis?

  • No thank you and go away, my fellow born-again Christian brother, “Pure Flix Entertainment co-founder Michael Scott”! (What is wrong with you?!)

    But thank you, thank you:

    The late Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan.

    Thailand’s Navy SEALs, divers, doctors and volunteers.

    Foreign divers.

    Australia’s Dr. Richard Harris.

    Australian Federal Police rescue team.

    British divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen.

    Danish diver Ivan Karadzic.

    China’s rescue experts.

    Green Boat Emergency.

    U.S. military team.

    Source: Mohamed Omar, “Thailand Cave Rescue Happened Thanks to Teams from Around the World Working Together: Humanity at Its Best”, Huffington Post, July 10-11, 2018.

  • Herrnhut
    8 days ago

    The news is not that hopeful if none of their parents turn to Jesus for help.

    Source: “Comments” on Tassanee Vejpongsa and Kaweewit Kaewjinda, “Spirit of mythical princess looms over Thai cave crisis”, Religion News Service, June 28, 2018.

  • You have no excuse…wait, no authority to consign them to your hell for being unlike you. Insisting all become blind sycophants, mimics of your fanaticism is how radicalized theocracies wreck the world. Look no further than the Inquisition or maybe the 17th century Puritans at Plymouth Rock.

  • “Umm, it’s “Pure Flix”, not “Pure Profit.””

    Actually its both. Christian film-making of the company has its roots in low budget production companies like Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.

    Low budgets, professional production, has-been actors, quick production schedules to exploit popular events are the hallmarks of exploitation film of all stripes. In several cases the exploitation film makers has the better film than the big budget Hollywood film it has ripped off or beaten to the box office.

    Favorite examples:
    Tombstone was filmed to beat Wyatt Earp to theaters and was actually the better film. Same with Independence Day to Mars Attacks.

  • Why?

    There is nothing superior about Christianity outside the minds of its adherents. That’s no different than any other religion.

  • You and only you determine your conduct. No one is forcing you to act immorally. In fact, forcing the “morality” of one sect or another has been a consistent breeding ground for inhumanity and immorality.

  • The crew that achieved the rescue was a mixed batch of mainly Thai Buddhists, various Christians and likely some atheists.

    There is at least one Baptist Church in the area because one of the trapped boys lives with the pastor & his wife. He is stateless because he has no citizenship papers. He was born in neighboring Myanmar. When he was 6 his parents shifted him across the border into Thailand and asked the Baptist pastor to raise him. Today he is 14 and very smart. He speaks about 4 languages. He was the one speaking English with the UK divers in some of the videos. His brilliance and athletic prowess earn him a full scholarship at the school that he attends.

    But it is definitely a region steeped in Thai Buddhist culture and customs. I wouldn’t be interested in a film that downplayed that aspect of these folks lives. 1000s of prayers went out daily in that community for those boys, Buddhist prayers.

  • Yes, I do determine my conduct, but, that does not stop immoral people from trying to force their immorality on one. Stop.

  • For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
    Choose life Canis

  • It’s really unfair to use the medium of films to spread some thoughts about Christianity. None of the boys are Christians and I do not know what the director’s objective is by making this movie. Nat Geo is already making a documentary on this 15 day ordeal of the young soccer team with no religion thrown in. I think a documentary is a better option since the boys are Buddhists and an interview with the boys of how Buddhism inspired them and gave them strength might make the film better and more down to earth. Christian producers will bring in the Christian element and will not be realistic or acceptable to sensible worldwide audiences. Anyway, the narrative too cannot be changed by making a few boys to play Christian characters when they are not Christians in real life.

  • Yes, we all know that you are saved and everyone else is lost. Because you have special knowledge and are able to read minds and souls. Congratulations.

  • Hence you and your ilk hide behind “blame the victim” as justification for every tragedy that befalls all who don’t reside in the same narrow trench as yourself.

  • What they did that helped save them was meditation, not Jesus. They were also helped by Israeli technology the rescuers used to see into the cave.

  • No, it’s just that you do as you’re told. And nothing more. But you lack the one thing that is necessary for this life: Love.

  • everyone is a victim, is that your theory. Are you saying that Hitler was a victim too Navy?

  • Fine. But do the Buddhist people of Thailand “do just fine without” the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, though? You’re too shaken to testify.

    See? You’re as shallow & nominal in your Rabbinical Judaism as Herrnhut here in her Fundamental Christianity.

  • Now that’s one of your sickest twist yet. You make a wonderful ersatz Christian but a recruiter, not so much.

  • awwwww………Navy shows compassion! Perhaps now you should extend that to others, my friend.

  • I have no problems demonstrating compassion via my actions, not hollow words from an ancient manuscript.

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