Less than a year after their captivating struggle to survive, the 33 miners who spent 69 days trapped underground in Chile are going Hollywood.
Producer Michael Medavoy, who earned an Academy Award nomination last year for putting together "Black Swan," announced on Sunday that he purchased the film rights to their story through his Half Circle production company. Oscar-nominated screen writer Jose Rivera will pen the screenplay.
In a statement announcing the film, miner Juan Andrés Illanes, the third to be rescued, celebrated the move and promised untold details of their time down in the mine.
"One year after the collapse of the mine, we consider this to be a great step towards the realization of a film based on our experience in the mine. This is the only official and authorized film about what we lived in the San José mine. Much of our story has never been told," he said.
The crew captured worldwide attention during their struggle, earning round-the-clock news coverage and tributes from around the globe. They were rescued on October 13th, 2010, and soon began fielding countless publicity requests that ultimately resulted in, amongst other things, Disney parades, singing on David Letterman's show, and interviews on major news shows; they later disputed public belief that they contemplated suicide and cannibalism, calling those claims a misunderstood joke that stemmed from their "60 Minutes" appearance.
It was reported in November of last year that Brad Pitt's production company was in talks to purchase the film rights.
Here's the full press release (via Deadline):
LOS ANGELES, CA - (JULY 24, 2011) Academy Award-nominated producer Mike Medavoy and representatives of the 33 Chilean Miners, whose remarkable rescue from the San José Mine last year captivated the world's attention, jointly announced today that they have entered into an agreement to bring the miners' extraordinary story to the screen. Academy Award-nominated screenwriter José Rivera (MOTORCYCLE DIARIES) is set to adapt. The film will recount the events surrounding the mine's collapse and the subsequent rescue efforts, which culminated in the emotional retrieval of all 33 miners after 69 days trapped half a mile beneath the surface.
"Like millions of people around the world, I was completely engrossed watching the rescue at Copiapó. At its heart, this is a story about the triumph of the human spirit and a testament to the courage and perseverance of the Chilean people. I can't think of a better story than this one to bring to the screen," said Medavoy.
"One year after the collapse of the mine, we consider this to be a great step towards the realization of a film based on our experience in the mine. This is the only official and authorized film about what we lived in the San José mine. Much of our story has never been told," said miner Juan Andrés Illanes.
Mike Medavoy and Edward McGurn, Medavoy's Vice-President at Phoenix Pictures, will produce through Medavoy's recently formed Half Circle banner. Prominent Chilean entrepreneurs Carlos Eugenio Lavín and Leopoldo Enriquez will Executive Produce. Lavin is a childhood friend of Medavoy's from his years in Chile, and Enriquez is a long time associate. Medavoy was born in Shanghai, China in 1941 and lived in Chile from 1947 to 1957.
Medavoy recently produced Martin Scorsese's SHUTTER ISLAND, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow. Medavoy also produced last year's critically acclaimed BLACK SWAN, directed by Darren Aronofsky, which won numerous awards, including the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress for Natalie Portman.
Medavoy and the team at Phoenix Pictures, which includes Arnie Messer, Brad Fischer, David Thwaites and Douglas McKay, start production on July 26th on WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING for Lionsgate, directed by Kirk Jones and starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, and a host of other stars. Thwaites is handling onset production on the project and McKay is co-producing.
In parallel to the film, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Héctor Tobar is writing the official book on the miners' story, using never before divulged details, including material from the diary of miner Víctor Segovia, written during his time underground, which has being kept strictly under wraps up to this point.
The 33 miners are represented by WME and the law firm of Arent Fox in the United States and Carey y Cía in Chile. José Rivera is represented by ICM.
Production on the film is scheduled to start in 2012.