If you were not glued to your screen watching the World Cup or pounding your head on the wall with the latest Washington DC shit show with crying babies in concentration camps or standing trial in front of judges, then you were probably following the harrowing story of the missing teen boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave on the Thai-Myanmar-Chinese border. It played out like a movie, and thankfully, the teens were found and rescued after a nail-biting couple of weeks.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came knocking and as the kids were shuttered over to a nearby hospital, Pureflix, a Christian-based movie studio behind the GOD’s NOT DEAD film series, announced that they are fast tracking a movie adaptation.
Pureflix CEO Michael Scott was actually on-site near the cave site, where he made the announcement on Facebook about his plans to get the movie rights, just as the ambulances were driving away.
First of all, thankfully, the kids are okay and definitely this is an uplifting story and one of human resilience, but to put a Christian slant on it, especially in Northern Thailand, where it is predominately Buddhist?
Immediate ire about this presumptuous announcement came online, with many people calling to expect more Hollywood whitewashing. Now to be fair, I highly doubt that Pureflix is aiming to get Matt Damon to play the 25-year old Thai coach or that Scarlett Johansson will play one of the kids, but one could make the prediction that a “white savior” role would definitely be in the mix; most likely a leader of the rescue team? You know, for crossover appeal.
Well, CRAZY RICH ASIANS director Jon M. Chu won’t have it, apparently. Check out the tweet he sent out earlier today:
I refuse to let Hollywood #whitewashout the Thai Cave rescue story! No way. Not on our watch. That won’t happen or we’ll give them hell. There’s a beautiful story abt human beings saving other human beings. So anyone thinking abt the story better approach it right & respectfully.
— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) July 11, 2018
Yep, Jon M. Chu is planning to develop and potentially direct his own take on the Thai Cave Rescue and is partnering with Ivanhoe Pictures, who financed the upcoming CRAZY RICH ASIANS.
More from Variety:
Chu signaled that he was working on the project on Wednesday with a tweet, which appeared to slam Pure Flix’s efforts. “I refuse to let Hollywood #whitewashout the Thai Cave rescue story! No way. Not on our watch,” he wrote. “That won’t happen or we’ll give them hell. There’s a beautiful story abt human beings saving other human beings. So anyone thinking abt the story better approach it right & respectfully.”
Once the Variety story went out, Chu retweeted it with this extra nugget of a statement:
Its a bit early 2truly discuss but the biggest lesson I learned frm making #CrazyRichAsians is that we must tell our stories especially the important ones so history doesnt get it wrong.This one is too important 2 let others dictate who the real heroes are https://t.co/ZmnSBFvPI3
— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) July 12, 2018
@jonmchu Its a bit early 2truly discuss but the biggest lesson I learned frm making #CrazyRichAsians is that we must tell our stories especially the important ones so history doesnt get it wrong.This one is too important 2 let others dictate who the real heroes are
Dayum!!! Understandably, the reaction to Chu’s announcement online has been pretty ecstatic.
Grateful you’re in the position to make a diff, even more grateful you’re using it. Gluck we got your back!
— philipwang (@philipwang) July 12, 2018
Yes! 👊🏽 Remember when 227,898 Asian people died in a Tsunami and Hollywood made the movie about Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts’ vacation? We can’t keep letting our stories get pushed into the background. Those brave boys, their coach, families & Thai NAVY seals deserve better.
— Joyce Wu (@oneandonlyjoyce) July 12, 2018
Work, not just words. Put it on the big screen, not just the little one in our hands.
Love this. Jon is the truth. https://t.co/XHc8rGCams
— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) July 12, 2018
You’ve been fighting hard for all these 38 years for traction. You’ve got it now. There’s more of us behind you to fight on, together.
— AsianSocialNetwork (@AsianSocialNet) July 12, 2018
— Laura (@lsirikul) July 12, 2018
Anything can happen in film development, but this announcement by Chu is definitely a big F.U. to Pureflix. To see a film developed by Asians and starring Asians is a major, major step. This just goes to show that we as Asian Pacific Americans can only make this happen, if we go out and buy tickets to CRAZY RICH ASIANS. And SEARCHING starring John Cho. Both films are coming out in August. We need to answer the call by buying tickets, especially on opening weekend. Have a MoviePass? Use it! It’s as good as money for the studios.
That is plain and simple. If we all collectively support these films, then Chu’s Thai Cave Rescue movie will be a reality. Of course, I am not advocating to support any movie, just because they’re Asian American. Of course not.
But CRAZY RICH ASIANS and the upcoming thriller and Sundance winner SEARCHING? I’ve seen them both and they’re both fantastic. Representation matters, especially in great movies. Box-office success will guarantee more APA filmmaker projects get greenlit. That will also lead to more APA actors getting more exposure. It’s as simple as that. Let’s make this happen!