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.
Every studio is juggling: When will their movies be finished, and when can theaters reopen? If we are to believe the National Association of Theater Owners spokesman John Fithian, this moving, 3D jigsaw puzzle will come together as early as June. Movies intended for the spring and early summer schedule will move forward, and unfinished movies will push back to the already-crowded 2021.
However, that doesn’t even begin to touch the complex matrix that would-be Oscar nominees face in 2020: How are buyers going to find these films in the face of an uncertain festival environment — and, once theaters can open, how will they find screens amidst a glut of delayed blockbusters?
One thing is certain: None of this will be easy, and no one has the time to mess with anything that isn’t actually up to snuff. As Fithian finished a Friday online meeting with some 700 global exhibitors, vendors, and press, Disney dropped its revised release schedule. Its first theatrical movie to go straight to Disney+ will be the bad-buzz title “Artemis Fowl.” Even Exhibitor Relations tweeted: “As expected, Disney’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ will debut exclusively on Disney+… where it always belonged.”
As expected, Disney’s ARTEMIS FOWL will debut exclusively on Disney+…where it always belonged.
Release date: TBD.
— Exhibitor Relations Co. 2: Box Office Boogaloo @ERCboxoffice April 3, 2020
Likely to change is Disney’s next release, Pixar’s “Soul,” on June 19. Even NATO doesn’t believe most movies will be able to open nationwide until July, where Warner Bros.’ Christopher Nolan tentpole “Tenet” still sits on July 18. Nolan is the heartfelt champion of exhibitors, even penning an op-ed in The Washington Post at Fithian’s behest.
Most movies shifting their dates are mainstream pictures and unlikely Oscar contenders in the best of times except for animated features: Live-action remake “Mulan” is now July 24 and Marvel’s “Black Widow” is November 6. As for those titles more likely to be considered — well, currently it looks a little lean.
Optimistically, Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck which interrupted its production schedule is now set for limited release December 25. That suggests Disney label Twentieth Century holds out hope for Oscar consideration.
On the studio side, Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights” remains undated for Warner Bros. — the director promises a theatrical release — while Steven Spielberg’s musical “West Side Story” should easily complete post-production in time for its December 18...