thirteen lives

Ron Howard is set to direct the latest feature film inspired by the 2018 rescue of a Thai soccer team from a flooded Tham Luang cave. The Solo director will helm Thirteen Lives, penned by William Nicholson, the Oscar-nominated writer of Gladiator.

Collider reports that Ron Howard is on board to direct Thirteen Lives, a drama written by William Nicholson inspired by the real-life events of the Thai cave rescue.

CAA Media Finance is currently shopping Thirteen Lives, which is described as a mid-budget package, to studios. But while interest is high in an inspiring story directed by Ron Howard — whose films like the Oscar-nominated Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind hit the same mark — there is a lot of competition for this particular story. Thirteen Lives will be one of at least seven movies adapting the harrowing story of a soccer team who became the center of an international rescue mission after being trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks. The story captured the attention of the world in 2018, and soon talks of a Hollywood adaptation inevitably followed. Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu jumped in early to adapt the story into a Netflix miniseries, citing concerns of Hollywood whitewashing, while Free Solo filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi are developing a film for Universal. A National Geographic documentary by Kevin MacDonald is also in the works.

But Howard is an old pro at adapting this kind of inspiring true-life drama. The director has earned acclaim and Oscar nods for the similarly inspiring Apollo 13, also based on a tragic true story and also featuring the lucky number 13 in the title. But having Howard and Nicholson at the helm — two prestigious journeymen filmmakers — is exactly the kind of project that people cynically predicted would happen while the rescue was unfolding: a Hollywood prestige team jumping at the chance to turn it into an Oscar bait movie.

But Howard and Nicholson both have delivered before, and will likely produce a solid film that will be at the front of whatever Oscar race the year it comes out.

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