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EXCLUSIVE: I hear that Oscar-winning Free Solo filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi have become attached to direct Universal and Cavalry Media’s feature about the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue in Thailand.
Midway screenwriter and scribe of USA Network’s Colony, Wes Tooke, is currently writing the screenplay about the Wild Boar boys soccer team, aged 11-16, who became trapped 1,000 meters below the surface with their coach by monsoon rains. They were ultimately rescued over the course of three days from July 8-10 in 2018. The risks of the harrowing rescue were underscored on July 6 when a retired Thai Navy SEAL died in an underwater passage, followed by three SEALs who were hospitalized after their oxygen tanks ran low.
Dana Brunetti and Matt DelPiano are producing under their Cavalry Media banner. Michael De Luca, who produced 6x Oscar nominee including Best Picture Captain Phillips, 3x Oscar winner The Social Network and the billion-dollar-plus grossing Universal franchise Fifty Shades of Grey with Brunetti, is serving as EP on the Thai Cave rescue project. De Luca stepped into his new job as Motion Picture Group chairman at MGM last month.
Brunetti and De Luca’s Sony production Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass, was also based on another real-life hero story entrenched in a perilous situation that made headlines, specifically Captain Richard Phillips who faced off with Somali pirates in 2009 after they hijacked the U.S. flagged MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship he was steering. That movie went on to gross close to $219M at the WW box office and was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture. DelPiano, a former CAA vet who came to Cavalry to launch their management arm a year ago, collaborated with Brunetti to secure the life rights of Richard Phillips for Sony.
Chin and Vasarhelyi won Best Feature Documentary at last year’s Oscars for their film Free Solo which follows rock climber Alex Honnold as he free solo climbs the vertical rock formation El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The National Geographic movie also centers around the production crew’s process in discussing the hurdles in endangering or distracting Honnold as he embarks on his climb. The film was a great hit for a documentary in 2018, grossing over $17.5M stateside, and $29.3M WW. Free Solo went on to win 6 Primetime Emmys including Chin and Vasarhelyi notching outstanding director for a doc/non-fiction program. Free Solo also won Best Documentary at the BAFTAs among many other accolades.
Chin and Vasarhelyi are represented by WME; Tooke is represented by Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment.
The 2006 Oscars will forever be remembered as the infamous ceremony where “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture. Ang Lee’s groundbreaking gay romance was the critical favorite and it won three of the eight Oscars it was nominated for that year: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Headlining actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal both earned Oscar nominations for their performances. The actors were asked to present during the 2007 Oscars telecast, but Gyllenhaal revealed in a recent interview with Another Man magazine via NME that Ledger turned down the opportunity because it would mean making jokes at the expense of the gay “Brokeback” love story.
“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” Gyllenhaal said. “And Heath refused. I was sort of at the time, 'Oh, okay... whatever.' I'm always like, ‘It's all in good fun.’ And Heath said, 'It's not a joke to me — I don't want to make any jokes about it.’”
Gyllenhaal, “That's the thing I loved about Heath. He would never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, 'No. This is about love. Like, that's it, man. Like, no.'”
Ledger was nominated in the Best Actor category but lost to “Capote” star Philip Seymour Hoffman. Gyllenhaal lost to George Clooney in “Syriana” for Best Supporting Actor. “Brokeback Mountain” marked the first Oscar nominations for both actors. Ledger would go on to be nominated and win his Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor race for his role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Ledger received the Academy Award posthumously. “Brokeback” remains Gyllenhaal’s sole Oscar nomination to date.
Gyllenhaal has previously spoken about Ledger’s disdain for “Brokeback Mountain” jokes, but this is the first time the actor has revealed his late co-star turned down the Oscars. Gyllenhaal told “Today” in July 2019 that “Brokeback” marked a pivotal moment in his career. “It opened tons of doors,” he said. “It was crazy. It was amazing. It's defined my career in different ways. [But the film] is bigger than me...It has become not ours anymore. It's the world's.”
Read Gyllenhaal’s latest interview in its entirety on the Another Man website.