Thai govt says it 'has not sold film rights for Tham Luang cave rescue'

Thai govt says it 'has not sold film rights for Tham Luang cave rescue'
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

The government has not granted intellectual rights of the rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team and their coach to any filmmakers despite several reports saying that Universal Pictures has secured deals with the Australian divers and the football team, Lt-General Weerachon Sukondhapati-pak said yesterday.

Weerachon is spokesperson of the committee tasked with handling intellectual rights for the epic Tham Luang cave rescue. 

The panel, set up in July, is comprised of officials from the culture, tourism, foreign and human development ministries and also includes reputable names from the Thai film industry. 

Apart from handling the rights of the much-heralded rescue in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district, the panel is also tasked with screening information, and safeguarding the children’s privacy and the country’s image. It will also oversee the production of the film should the rights be sold. 

Earlier, Deadline news media reported that Hollywood’s Universal Pictures had sealed a deal with Australian cave divers Dr Richard Harris and Craig Challen as well as coach Ekkaphol Chantawong and the Wild Boar football team.

Deadline news reported that the film would be produced by Dana Brunetti and Micheal De Luca, who have big hits like the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series, “Captain Phillips” and “The Social Network” under their belts. 

However, the panel has insisted that it did not give any studio the rights to produce a film on the children’s ordeal, and quoted the coach as saying that he too has not accepted any such deals. 

“But we are not sure if Universal Pictures bought the rights from the Australian divers,” Weerachon said. 

The parents of one of the Wild Boar team members confirmed that nobody had contacted them to sign a film deal, adding that they entrusted the committee to take care of their rights. 

Somsak Tanakham, the Mae Sai district chief, also said Universal Pictures had not contacted him or anybody in his office. 

Meanwhile, Bundit Thongdee, president of Thai Film Directors Association, said under the law, Universal Pictures does not have to acquire the rights if the names are changed in the film. 

“The studio will only have to acquire rights and permission if it wants to use their real names in the film,” he said. Bundit added that the studio did not have to comply with any Thai regulations if it shoots the film outside the Kingdom. 

However, Bundit was positive that a film on the cave rescue would be an inspiring one about solidarity, love and peace, “like how powerful we were when the world was united as one”, he said.

The cave rescue saga, which began on June 23, gripped people across the world as efforts to locate the Wild Boar team and their coach kept getting hampered by rising water levels and strong currents. 

The Thai Navy Seals, who were joined by many international professional divers, including Australians Challen and Harris, coordinated the complicated operation to find and extract the football team. 

One former Navy Seal, Lt-Commander Samarn Gunan even lost his life in the operation. The Wild Boar team and the coach were safely extracted by July 10. 

Thai cave rescue: Boys share details of their traumatic experience

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    During a national TV broadcast they smiled, joked and showed solidarity with one another, as they shared details of their traumatic experience inside the flooded Tham Luang cave complex.

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    During their TV news conference, the boys said when they entered the cave on June 23 they had planned to only be inside the cave for about an hour after football practice.

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    But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

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    The boys had no food and survived only on water. They took turns digging at the cave walls, hoping to find a way out.

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    "This experience made me stronger and taught me not to give up," said the team's youngest member, who goes by the name Titan.

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    The boys will eventually spend time as novice Buddhist monks to honour the dead diver's memory, their coach said on Wednesday.

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    The Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital on Saturday released a video clip on its Facebook page showing the 12 Mu Pa (Wild Boar) Academy footballers and their coach thanking everyone for their concern and help in rescuing them. Chanin Wibulrungruang (Titan), 11, said his condition was returning to normal and he would like to eat sushi. He thanked the Navy SEALs for rescuing him and thanked everyone for all the moral support.

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    They also conveyed that they were in good health and looked forward to tasting their favourite foods. The 12 youths and the coach were seen in a row of beds in the three-minute clip.

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    Pipat Phothi (Nik), 15, said he felt in good health. He said he would like to eat rice with crisp fried pork, and rice with stew red pork. He thanked the rescuers and everyone for the moral support.

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    Piraphat Sompiangchai (Night), 16, said he felt in good health and he would like to eat pork pan chabu very much. He thanked everyone for all the moral support.

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    Adul Sam-on (Dul), 14, said his condition had improved and he would like to go to a KFC shop. He said he was now killing time by drawing pictures of his friends and Coach Ek in the cave.

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    He also said in English: “I’m Adul. I’m very fine. Thank you for helping us. Thank you very much.”

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    Ekkapol Chanthawong, 25, or Coach Ek, said he his condition was improving and he now felt strong. He would like to eat fried rice with crisp pork. He said he would like to thank all the people and all the ministries and Navy SEALs as well as the doctors for helping the team.

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    Pornchai Khamluang (Tee), 16, said he would like to eat fried rice with crisp pork and would like to thank everyone for all the moral support.

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    Sompong Jaiwong (Pong), 13, said he was strong now. He would like to eat curry basil rice with fried egg. He thanked everyone for all the moral support and thanked the international community for helping the team. “Thank you,” he said in English.

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    Mongkol Boonpiam (Mark), 13, said he was now strong and could even run. He would like to eat a piece of steak. He thanked everyone for all the moral support and promised to fight on

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    This handout video grab taken from footage released by The Thai government public relations department (PRD) and Government spokesman bureau on July 11, 2018 shows members of the "Wild Boars" football team being treated at a hospital in Chiang Rai.

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    The 12 boys rescued from a Thai cave were passed "sleeping" on stretchers through the treacherous passageways, a former Thai Navy SEAL told AFP on July 11, giving the first clear details of an astonishing rescue mission that has captivated the world.

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    Doctors have said they are in good physical and mental health -- a view backed up by the footage made available by the Thai government showing them behind quarantine glass in bed wearing smocks and facemasks, flashing peace signs and doing the traditional "wai" greeting.

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    They do not look shell-shocked or stunned despite a potentially harrowing 18 days inside a dank, dark cave followed by a risky rescue operation that was dubbed "Mission Impossible".

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    A screen grab shows people looking through glass at the boys

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