One independent film production featuring the Wild Boars story already finished filming in Thailand in late December and is due for release in 2020. This week, a press conference and reception at Thailand’s Ministry of Culture, announced that Netflix had purchased exclusive rights from a Thai firm set up by the Thai government to represent the 12 boys and their coach. The movie giant will film a production of the story and bring it to worldwide screens. The inspiring Tham Luang story and a well-crafted feature film reaching a global mass audience is a huge opportunity for Thailand. It will let the world see, as it did briefly in July 2018, the true nature and values of Thailand.

This week at Thailand’s Culture Ministry in Bangkok, the Wild Boars soccer team, 12 Thai boys and their coach ‘Ake’ or Ekkapol Chantapong attended a press conference to announce a Netflix production of their story. The boys and their coach were rescued last July between the 8th and 10th of the month. The miracle discovery that they were alive on July 2nd 2018 stunned the world. The new film project will make each of the boys and their erstwhile coach Thai millionaires with a payout of ฿3 million each. The film production is being co-directed by award-winning Thai director Nattawut Poonpiriya and John M Chu, the director of the 2018 hit ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ which was critically acclaimed and also a box office success.

The 12 Wild Boars soccer team in Bangkok this week at the Ministry of Culture with their coach ‘Ake’ or Ekkapol Chantapong where their company 13 Thamluang Co Ltd signed a deal with Netflix for a heavyweight film production co-directed by award-winning Thai film director Nattawut Poonpiriya and Jon M Chu of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ fame. Erika North, Netflix’s Director of International Originals, told the media that Netflix was committed to Thailand and reminded people how the Tham Luang rescue story connected people from all over the world in early July 2018 when a miracle took place before the eyes of the world’s media. The deal will make the boys and their coach Thai millionaires with each guaranteed to take home ฿3 million from the movie with 15% of the income going to organisations involved in disaster relief worldwide.

Thailand’s Ministry of Culture this week revealed that each of the 12 Thai boys on the ‘Wild Boar’ soccer team and their coach rescued last year for Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai will receive ฿3 million ($94,000) making them Thai millionaires.

The monies will be paid as part of a deal between a Thai company which the Thai government has set up in association with the boys and their coach to negotiate the best deal possible for their exclusive story and film rights.

Wild Boars company does deal with Netflix

The Thai firm, 13 Thamluang Co Ltd., this week inked a deal with the movie giant Netflix and SK Global Entertainment to produce a film production featuring the events in June and July last year which captured the imagination of the world.

On Tuesday this week, the 12 boys attended a press conference with their erstwhile coach at the Culture Ministry in Bangkok. Deputy Thai Government spokesman Weerachon Sukoondhapatipakat confirmed the amount that each boy and his family would get from the deal.

A team of boys left their bicycles on the road after soccer practice to explore a mysterious local cave complex on June 23rd 2018

On June 23rd 2018, the boys left their bicycles after coming from soccer practice and entered the cave with their 25-year-old coach ‘Ake’ or Ekkapol Chantapong.

When they entered the renowned and already legendary cave complex with quite a mysterious past according to local folklore, in the mountains of northern Thailand in Chiang Rai, it was a hot summer’s day.

They wanted to explore the cave complex and as they moved inwards, the weather outside changed resulting in heavy rain. The cave complex soon became flooded.

The boys and their coach could not find a way out. Instead, they were forced to retreat and find refuge in the cave complex above the increasing water level.

Local foreigners in Chiang Rai suggested bringing in UK cave diving experts

Soon their disappearance became national news in Thailand and as it went on, the story gathered international news coverage. It appeared to be the prelude to a tragedy.

The Thai armed forces and emergency rescue teams launched a search for the boys and began frantically to pump out the excess water in the cave complex. The prospects for the boys looked grim as authorities battled the elements with no sign of life.

As more days went by, the boys were not located. Local people and teams from all over Thailand came to help. Foreign governments came forward to provide assistance. Significantly, a number of foreign locals in Chiang Rai and from throughout the kingdom also came to help. One of these was Vern Unsworth, a UK cave explorer married to a local Thai woman and living in Thailand.

He had been due to explore the cave complex on June 24th. At one point, Mr Unsworth suggested to Thai officials that expert cave divers from the UK, reportedly the best in the world, be asked to assist.

Two part-time UK divers made the breakthrough as part of a combined rescue effort

Two A-level cave divers from the UK, 56-year-old Rick Stanton and 47-year-old John Volanthen were asked to come to Thailand to join experts from other countries including the entrepreneur Elon Musk in what now became an international effort but one running on hope as the days went by.

The two were recommended by the British Cave Rescue Council. One is a fireman in the UK, the other an IT expert. 

July the 2nd 2018 was the day that the miracle happened and the news was flashed worldwide

The miracle happened on July 2nd when the British divers, nearly at the end of their oxygen span, came up into another hole or opening within another part of the cave system to be confronted by the appearance of the boys in an emaciated and weak state.

The British divers immediately asked how many of them were present probably expecting some to have been lost but were told 13.

That was ‘great’, they exclaimed at the news that soon made its way back to the outside world.

That single announcement, a jolt to a world public that had for days begun to, even subconsciously, write off the prospects for the boys and their coach, was the miracle.

It was as if the wild boars had suddenly roared back to life and defeated death from its clutches in the dark caves. The news stopped the world in its tracks as it was relayed to every corner of the earth and timezone from an ecstatic crowd at Tham Luang cave.

The people celebrated that evening in Thailand.

Challenge being faced by authorities brought home by the tragic death of a Royal Thai navy seal on July 5th as he assisted with oxygen tanks

Thoughts turned quickly to the rescue operation. It was a daunting task. The location of the boys was many miles into the complex and within a multi-level system. It could only be reached by going underwater and through difficult, narrow paths with jagged edges that diving professionals found difficult to negotiate.

The challenge facing authorities was made quite clear when a former Thai Navy seal, Saman Gunan, lost his life during an operation to bring back oxygen tubes on July 5th, 3 days later.

The tragic loss of the Thai man touched many Thai people deeply and still resonates today, particularly at times like this.

Journey out would require a few hours underwater to travel many miles. The boys could not swim and would panic said the experts

The rescue effort was also fighting against the threat of increasing water levels. This presented a real and growing danger to the lives of the boys and their coach.

Even after the good fortune of having located the boys and their coach had come to pass, it could still all go awry.

A team of military personnel and experts was sent into the cave area to keep company with the boys. They found that they were not strong. Efforts to teach the boys how to dive and prepare the for the rescue mission resulted in Thai authorities learning that the boys could not even swim.

The scale and complexity of the challenge were growing more daunting as Thai authorities grappled with the challenge. Experts believed that the boys would not be able to survive the many hours underwater required to negotiate the tricky path through the cave complex without panicking.

The journey out was miles long underwater and with many difficult manoeuvres to make it around, under or over the contours of the cave system.

The day the Wild Boar boys began come out in a controlled operation devised carefully by Thai authorities and experts

Finally, after intense preparations, a mode of rescue was devised to transport the boys out. It was decided to conduct the rescue in stages with up to 4 boys each day. The rescue of the first batch of boys was cheered around the world. As the days went by, all social media and international media was focused on only one story worldwide.

All eyes and ears were on Thailand and the Thai people in Chiang Rai. It was a few days that united the world in one common purpose.

This positive and heartwarming experience was something unique as it awakened a common purpose among all human beings. From housewives in the UK to offices in the United States to internet users in Europe, it was the main story beamed on the wires. It was also a rare occasion when international TV and media came to appreciate the warm bonds that unite the real Thai people, their love of family and their ability to reach out to the rest of the world.

In short, it was Thailand at its best.

It was not the stereotypical photo of sex workers and the Thai military with guns which many foreigners, quite wrongly, associate with Thailand apart from its superlative beaches and holiday resorts.

It was a world team effort

Both UK divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthe, took part in the first day of the rescue.

When the rescue was successfully completed, both happily went back to their jobs in the UK. They were quick to point out that while they were lucky enough to find the boys initially, it would not have been possible without a huge international team effort.

It is this charming spirit and the instinctive reaction of the public in Thailand and worldwide, that makes the Tham Luang rescue story so inspirational.

Award-winning Thai film director is an inspired choice as co-director with ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ director Jon M Chu, expect something emotionally charged

The Netflix production will be a feature film but there has also been talk of a mini-series.

The production will be co-directed by Thai Director Nattawut Poonpiriya and John M Chu whose move ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ took the world by storm last year.

Thailand has become famous in recent years for powerful, evocative TV commercials that are inspiring and ingenious. Nattawut Poonpiriya is an expert at the genre.

These are, in fact, another eye-opener for many if not most foreigners and western people who do not fully appreciate the true value and authenticity of Thailand.

Thai film director for Netflix project won all 12 awards  at a 2017 film awards for his thriller ‘Bad Genius’

These commercials are produced by directors such as Nattawut Poonpiriya and another inspired director, Thanonchai Sornsriwichai. They are masterpieces of emotion and highly crafted for advertising firms such as Ogilvy and leading Thai companies.

Nattawut Poonpiriya has also directed two highly acclaimed thriller movies in Thailand. Countdown in 2012 was a horror-thriller that won three awards at the Suphannahong National Film Awards.

His next film, the thriller Bad Genius, in 2017, in an epic feat, won all awards in all 12 categories.

Thailand is important for Netflix

Erika North is Netflix’s Director of International Originals. She explained why the media giant wanted to make a feature on the Tham Luang rescue.

‘The story combines so many unique local and universal themes which connected people from all walks of life, from all around the world,’ she said. She said that the company was very proud to have secured the rights to the project. ‘Thailand is a very important country for Netflix and we are looking forward to bringing this inspiring local but globally resonant story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to live, once again, for global audiences.’

Thai company owned by the ‘Wild Boars’ has committed 15% of receipts from the film to disaster relief work worldwide as part of the film deal

As part of the deal announced this week between Netflix and the company representing the Wild Boar team including coach ‘Ake’, 13 Thamluang Co Ltd, 15% of all receipts and income derived from bringing the story to the screen will go to non-governmental organisations who work on providing disaster relief across the world.

Coach ‘Ake’ vows to help tell the story of the ‘miracle’ accurately and recognise the heroes

The project will see a film produced detailing the drama and background to the 17 days in June and July 2018 when a miracle happened in northern Thailand that, for a short period of time, stopped the world.

The 12 boys aged between 12 and 16, were present at a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Culture in Bangkok as was their coach ‘Ake’ or Ekkapol Chantapong.

‘We are grateful for the opportunity to thank the people and organizations from Thailand and around the world who came together to perform a true miracle, by retelling our story,’ he said. ‘We look forward to working with all involved parties to ensure our story is told accurately, so that the world can recognize, once again, the heroes that made the rescue operation a success.’

One of these heroes will undoubtedly be former Royal Thai marine Saman Gunan as well as the two UK divers who made the breakthrough.

Independent movie finished filming in December last and will be released in 2020

Already, two books have been released detailing the inspiring international effort that united the world. An independent film directed by British director Tom Waller titled The Cave finished shooting in December last according to The Hollywood Reporter. It is due to be released next year.

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Further reading:

Tham Luang cave was the place where the miracle happened. Now it is going to become a tourist attraction

News that the Thai boys were alive started a world media news quake