MGM Lands Ron Howard's Thai Cave Rescue Movie 'Thirteen Lives'

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer - H Getty 2019
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William Nicholson, the Oscar-nominated writer of 'Gladiator,' penned the screenplay.

MGM has acquired the rights to the Ron Howard-directed Thai cave rescue movie Thirteen Lives.

The film tells the true story of the 2018 rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded, impenetrable cave system in Thailand, which gained international attention.

William Nicholson, the Oscar-nominated writer of Gladiator, penned the feature, which will be produced by P.J. van Sandwijk of Storyteller Productions, Gabrielle Tana of Magnolia Mae, and Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Karen Lunder of Imagine Entertainment.

“The Thai families, government and a community of farmers and neighbors who came together to support a global group of rescue divers to aide in the recovery of 12 fearless young men and their coach was an extraordinary act of teamwork. MGM is deeply honored to be a part of this project with Ron, Brian, Karen, P.J., Gaby and to share with audiences everywhere the incredible real-life story of people working together to reunite the 13 with their families,” MGM Motion Picture Group president Pamela Abdy said Monday in a statement.

Added Howard, “This film is case study in courage and volunteerism — the courage of those who were trapped, of the divers, of the officials and of the locals who all came together to overcome insurmountable odds while the world watched. Brian and I are excited to partner with MGM, P.J., and Gaby, to bring this heroic story to audiences around the word.”

CAA Media Finance negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

This is the latest splashy purchase for MGM now under the new direction of Michael De Luca. The studio recently picked up Ridley Scott’s Gucci — a true-crime drama about the murder of fashion trailblazer Maurizio Gucci that has Lady Gaga in talks to star — and an Andy Weir space drama with Ryan Gosling set to topline.

Thirteen Lives is one of several Hollywood projects intent on telling the story of the Thai cave rescue, including a Netflix co-produced miniseries from the team behind Crazy Rich Asians, among others.