Ron Howard’s film about Thai caves rescue will shoot in Australia

Thanks to $13million from the Australian government

Thirteen Lives, a Ron Howard-directed film about the 2018 Thai Caves rescue, will shoot in Queensland next year thanks to a $13million boost from the Australian government.

The film is the latest to benefit from the Federal Government’s $400million Location Incentive Program, which lures overseas productions to Australia with the intention to jumpstart the local film and TV economy.

Thirteen Lives is written by Gladiator writer-William Nicholson and is set to tell the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of a boys’ soccer team, after they became stuck inside due to heavy rain and flooding. A group of experts from around the world, including divers and scientists, joined together to save the boys.


Shooting will commence on the Gold Coast in March 2021.

In a press statement, Howard noted his collaborations with Australian artists and film technicians over the years, including Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Chris Hemsworth, John Seale and Donald McAlpine.

“From ‘Thirteen Lives’ to the animated project I am directing with Animal Logic [The Shrinking Treehorn] in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected,” he said.

Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher claimed Thirteen Lives would inject more than $96million into the state and national economy, and create up to 435 jobs for cast and crew.

Earlier this month, two major Netflix titles – the Chris Hemsworth-starring film Escape from Spiderhead and the Toni Collette-starring Pieces of Her drama series – announced they would film in Australia over the next year under the Location Incentive scheme. The Liam Neeson vehicle Blacklight, another beneficiary of the program, is currently shooting in Melbourne.


The $400million package received some criticism when announced in July, with Shadow Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, questioning why the money had only been allocated for international productions when the local industry had only received $50million.

Matthew Deaner, CEO of Screen Producers Australia, said the funding would target Hollywood productions filming in Australia, but the budget would only accommodate 20 per cent of the local industry.

“It’s great to have Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean and those productions shooting here, it’s wonderful, but they don’t sell Australia.”