Ron Howard to Direct Thailand Cave Rescue Movie with Script from ‘Gladiator’ Writer

Universal Pictures

A sought-after project has come to light with Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) and screenwriter William Nicholson (Gladiator, Les Misérables).

A number of bids are being put forth for Thirteen Lives, a planned film that will tell the story of the incredible 2018 rescue of a boys soccer team trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand. As per Deadline, the outlet that broke the news, the film is being eyed “as another Apollo 13” for director Howard, whose other real-life films include Rush, Cinderella Man and Frost/Nixon. This could be quite the film.

The soccer team of young boys, aged from eleven to sixteen, and their 25-year-old assistant coach became trapped 1,000 meters below the surface due to monsoon rains that flooded their way out. The world was enraptured with the arduous rescue mission that unfolded, as various international rescue teams – amounting to over 10,000 people – collaborated in a massive operation to make it through rising waters, strong currents, and a labyrinth of narrow underwater passages. A former Thai Navy SEAL died of asphyxiation during the rescue, while another rescue diver died in December 2019 of a blood infection contracted during the operation. All the boys and their coach were rescued; they spent around 18 days trapped.

There are a few projects currently in the works related to the rescue. Free Solo directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi are on board a movie at Universal and Cavalry Media, Netflix and filmmaker Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, Now You See Me 2) have something planned, and director Kevin MacDonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland) has a documentary in the works at National Geographic.

Howard’s last feature was Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story. Before Howard tackles Thirteen Lives, he’ll be delivering the drama Hillbilly Elegy, an adaptation of the memoir by J. D. Vance. The cast of that one includes Amy Adams and Glenn Close.

Warner Bros.

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