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Netflix’s long in the works series about the miraculous 2018 cave rescue of Thailand’s Wild Boars youth soccer team finally has a launch date. The six-episode limited series Thai Cave Rescue will release on the streaming service worldwide on Sept. 22.
Filmed entirely in Thailand, the show tells the real-life story of the 12 young Thai soccer players and their 25-year-old coach after they became stuck in a vast underground cave complex near the Myanmar border. The story unfolds from the perspectives of the boys themselves, as well as the experiences of their families and the vast global team that came together to save them.
Thai Cave Rescue is one of several screen projects to tackle the sensational story. Ron Howard’s Hollywood film version, Thirteen Lives, starring Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton is getting a limited theatrical release this Friday ahead of its streaming launch on Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 5. An indie film version, The Cave, premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in 2019 and a documentary take, The Rescue, from Oscar winners Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, aired on National Geographic in 2021.
Created by Michael Russell Gunn (Billions, Designated Survivor) and Dana Ledoux Miller (Designated Survivor, Narcos), Thai Cave Rescue is co-directed by Thai hitmaker Baz Poonpiriya (One for the Road, Bad Genius) and Thai-American director Kevin Tancharoen (The Brothers Sun, The Book of Boba Fett, Warrior). Gunn and Miller also serve as co-showrunners and writers of the project.
Both directors also serve as executive producers alongside Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) and Lance Johnson (The Equalizer) for Electric Somewhere; John Penotti (Crazy Rich Asians) for SK Global Entertainment; John Logan Pierson (Patriots Day); and Tim Coddington (Mulan, Crazy Rich Asians).
Netflix and SK Global Entertainment came together to acquire the rights to the soccer team’s story back in 2019 amid fierce competition to bring the miraculous rescue to screen.
Thai Cave Rescue stars an expansive Thai cast led by Papangkorn “Beam” Lerkchaleampote as Coach Eak, Thaneth “Ek” Warakulnukroh as Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, and Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund and Manatsanun “Donut” Phanlerdwongsakul as Kelly and Pim — fictional representatives of the real-world hydraulic engineers and park rangers that made the incredible rescue possible. Supakorn “Tok” Kitsuwan also joins the cast as former Navy SEAL diver Saman “Ja Sam” Gunan, while Bloom Varin plays army doctor Colonel Bhak Loharjun.
“Thai Cave Rescue is the first opportunity for audiences worldwide to see the Tham Luang story in a new and more emotional light — centering the perspectives of the 12 Wild Boars, Coach Eak, and heroes like Saman “Ja Sam” Gunan, whose lives beyond the operation remain largely outside the public spotlight,” said Baz Poonpiriya in a statement. “I am very proud to have this opportunity to tell the stories behind the faces and names we have come to know well over the course of this world-famous rescue operation.”
Added Gunn: “For us, Thai Cave Rescue is ultimately a story about family and what we decide family should be. From the boys’ own parents and guardians to thousands of local and international rescuers joining the mission, this was the entire world coming together as one big family. We intended for the show to cover not just the rescue operation but also what the Wild Boars went through inside the cave, and we believe our focus on achieving authenticity – from characters and languages to locations and emotions – will shine through and make an impact on viewers worldwide through Netflix.”
Netflix says its emphasis on authenticity extended to the casting of the 12 Wild Boars, who are played by local boys Pratya “Tiger” Patong, Songpol “Pangpon” Kantawong, Chakkapat “Junior” Sisat, Thanawut “Bank” Chetuku, Teeraphat “Gun”‘ Somkaew, Thanaphong “Pluem” Kanthawong, Thanapat “Utha” Phungpumkaew, Aphisit “Fluke” Yookham, Watcharaphol “Kim” Puangsawan, Thapanot “Nam-Ning” Huttapasu, Apisit “Chit” Saengchan, and Rattaphoom “Fluke” Nakeesathid. Filming took place at the homes of the real boys and the Tham Luang cave itself.
Said co-director Tancharoen: “As a Thai American, I feel so incredibly fortunate to help tell this story through the lens and soul of the Thai people. I wanted to bring my experience of telling big superhero stories to the real world. One where real-life superheroes worked together for a common cause regardless of where they were from, and the only superpowers are the perseverance of the human spirit.”
A group of international actors portrays the key overseas contributors to the rescue, including Nicholas Bell as Vern Unsworth, Nicholas Farnell as John Volanthen, Christopher Stollery as Rick Stanton, Rodger Corser as Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris, and Damon Herriman as Dr. Craig Challen. One detail Netflix has not yet revealed is whether Elon Musk’s ignominious cameo in the real-life cave rescue saga has a place in the show.
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