'Free Solo' Team To Direct Universal's Thai Cave Rescue Movie

How many more Thai soccer teams must be rescued from caves before Hollywood has its fill? At least one more.

Universal has tapped the Oscar-winning filmmaking team behind Free Solo to helm their Thai cave rescue movie. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, who won a Best Documentary Feature Oscar for their gripping 2018 documentary on rock climber Alex Honnold, are the latest filmmakers to tackle this subject.

Deadline reports that Universal and Cavalary Media have hired Free Solo filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi to helm a feature film inspired by the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue in Thailand. Universal's project is one of at least seven movies adapting the real-life inspirational story of a soccer team at the center of an international rescue mission after being trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks.

This will be Chin and Vasarhelyi's first scripted feature after the married couple began shooting documentaries together with 2015's Meru, a Sundance darling about Chin's historic ascent of the "Shark's Fin" route on Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas. Vasarhelyi had been directing documentary features since 2003, with her debut film winning Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003. But of course, their crowning achievement would be winning the Oscar for Free Solo, which documented the nail-biting tale of rock climber Alex Honnold's free-solo climb up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The film also won six Primetime Emmys as well as a BAFTA and numerous other accolades. Chin and Vasarhelyi are familiar with harrowing, tension-filled subject matter, but it remains to be seen whether their first scripted venture will stand out among the rest of the many Thai cave rescue movies. One of which is a project by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu, who began developing his version in order to prevent efforts to whitewash the story.

Chin and Vasarhelyi's film will adapt the harrowing true story of 12 boys between the ages of 11-16 and their soccer coach who entered the Tham Luang cave in Thailand and became trapped after heavy rains flooded the cave. The story became an global sensation, as countries around the world watched while an international team of rescuers struggled to save the the team. One rescuer — a former Thai Navy SEAL —  died of asphyxiation during the rescue, which was finally pulled off after 18 days.

Dana Brunetti and Matt DelPiano are producing the Chin and Vasarhelyi film under their Cavalry Media banner, with Michael De Luca, who the similarly harrowing real-life Oscar nominee Captain Phillips, is serving as executive producer.