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Mu Pa – The Movie. The frenzy for rights.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Mu Pa – The Movie. The frenzy for rights. | The Thaiger

“The Wall Street Journal reported that Universal had offered $1.5 million (49 million baht) to be split among the boys and Ekkaphol.”

Stampede for the cave drama scoopnational October 20, 2018 01:00 By The Nation Weekend
Producers of movies, games, and books are queuing to see who gets a share in the Tham Luang story

After Hollywood studio Universal Pictures reported that they’d acquired the rights to make a movie about the Tham Luang cave rescue, the Culture Ministry continues to insist that no such rights have been granted to anyone.

Culture Minister Vira Rojpojanarat said this week that the Creative Media Panel the government, established for the purpose of examining proposals about the story, would hold an open call from November 15-23 for submissions for rights to make movies about the cave drama, as well as for depictions in all other media.

Several Hollywood-based and Thai studios were swift to pitch plans for feature and documentary films about the cave rescue, with even games-makers joining in the friz to depict an event that caught the world’s attention.

Vira says the government was “representing” the 12 youngsters rescued from the Chiang Rai cave, along with their coach and their parents, to protect their intellectual property rights. The panel, set up in July, has officials from the culture, tourism, foreign affairs and human development ministries and reputable figures from the Thai film industry.

To date there are 22 movies, a TV series, animated games, music videos and books in the works, Vira said.

Five foreign film studios and five in Thailand are proposing feature movies and 10 documentary projects have been touted by companies at home and abroad. Three projects involve books and music videos, and Thai and foreign news media have extended invitations to the boys and their coach to be interviewed on 27 different TV programs.

Watch an excellent documentary prepared in the days following the final rescue from the Australian Four Corners program…

Vira said local moviemakers could make their pitches to his Culture Ministry, while foreigners have to submit their proposals to the Tourism and Sport Ministry. The Creative Media Panel is also tasked with screening the information flow to and from the boys and safeguarding both their privacy and the country’s image. Once rights are granted to specific film projects, it will also oversee production.

The panel will help the families negotiate contracts with foreign studios, Vira said, with careful attention paid to their intellectual property rights. The restrictions on rights do not apply to the use of information already in the public domain, he said. Vira did not name any studios interested in the Mu Pa story, but it was widely reported that Universal Pictures had sealed a deal with the boys and their coach, Ekkaphol Chantawong, as well as Australian cave divers Dr Richard Harris and Craig Challen.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Universal had offered $1.5 million (49 million baht) to be split among the boys and Ekkaphol.

It listed Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca as producers, a duo previously associated with box-office hits “Fifty Shades of Grey”, “Captain Phillips” and “The Social Network”.

Despite the report, panel members have insisted that no studio had as yet been granted the rights to produce a film about the cave rescue. Ekkaphol has also been quoted as saying he has accepted no such deal.

“But we are not sure if Universal Pictures bought the rights from the Australian divers,” panel spokesman Lt-General Weerachon Sukondhapati-pak said.

At least three other major foreign studios have expressed interest in producing movies. De Warrenne Productions, headed by Thai-Irish producer-director Tom Waller, recently announced plans for a movie titled “The Cave”.

He was looking for distributors at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was Waller who made the award-winning films “Mindfulness and Murder” and “The Last Executioner”.

Pure Flix managing partner Michael Scott and co-producer Adam Smith interviewed people around the cave in the immediate aftermath of the rescue in early July. Their firm is known for Christian-theme movies like “Do You Believe?” and the “God’s Not Dead” series and they hope to focus on the inspirational aspects of the rescue operation.

“Now You See Me 2” director Jon M Chu and Ivanhoe Pictures meanwhile announced they were teaming up for a movie about the incident.

“There’s a beautiful story here about human beings saving other human beings,” Chu said on Twitter.

The cave rescue drama that began on June 23 held people across the world spellbound as efforts to locate the Wild Boar team were repeatedly stymied by rising water levels and strong currents. Thai Navy Seals, joined by a slew of foreign professional divers including Australians Challen and Harris, coordinated the complicated operation.

One former Navy Seal, Lt-Commander Saman Kunan, lost his life in the operation. The boys and their coach were all safely extracted during a complex three day operation by July 10.

STORY: The Nation Weekend



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Chiang Mai

Better analysis needed to track down the source of new chemicals in illicit drugs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Better analysis needed to track down the source of new chemicals in illicit drugs | The Thaiger

The Office of Narcotics Control Board has been training personnel in drug analysis to handle new illicit substances coming onto the streets.

A Chinese analysis lab has recently discovered 230 new psychotropic substances which are making their way into recreational drugs and other foods.

China has subsequently banned several beverages and sweets that contain these new illegal substances.

Thailand’s Justice Minister Prajin Juntong says that better analysis was key in drug prevention and suppression, as it helped identify the sources of the precursor chemicals. Each source used different formulae or ingredients, he said.

“New chemicals that were not used in narcotics before, and not listed in official databases, are now being used. So each confiscated batch will no longer be destroyed right away but be analysed first.”

“Lab tests are time-consuming and require new technology to ensure tests can keep up with the drug trade. This information was shared globally.”

He reported that  Thailand has been cooperating with Australia, China and Singapore and other ASEAN countries in sharing knowledge and analysis techniques.

“Thailand usually serves as a transit country for narcotic smuggling to a third country.”

China’s National Narcotics Control Commission analyst Liu Peipei says her agency recently found 230 new psychoactive substances that could yield “highs”, but had different ingredients from heroin, methamphetamine and other common drugs.

“Recently China has banned the sale of a beverage contaminated with a narcotic that may be harmful to consumers. We also found THC (the active chemical in cannabis) in chocolate and jelly,” she said.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Chiang Mai

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border | The Thaiger

The number of seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine are surging into northern Thailand. The demand rises and the methods of detection and enforcement also improve. It’s a vicious circle.

Authorities say the number of drug seizures have risen 1000% in just the past 2 years, a stark indication of the growth in industrial-scale production in neighboring Myanmar.

Some 18.4 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, was seized in Thailand last year, according to preliminary statistics from the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board. They know it’s a tiny proportion of the amounts produced and shipped out undetected.

That figure is up from 5.2 tonnes in 2017 and 1.6 tonnes in 2016. It’s more than three times the amount captured across all of Southeast Asia five years ago – a staggering rise in production and distribution.

Thailand remains a major trafficking route for the artificial drug manufactured in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states – the north-eastern states of Myanmar that border China, Laos and Thailand.

Police say organised crime groups work with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to set-up “super labs” and allow transport through the regions to borders beyond.

The same mega-labs are also pumping out ‘cocktail’ tablets of methamphetamine, mixed with caffeine and other ‘fillers’. The drug is nicknamed ‘yaba’ in Thailand. Specialist chemists and ‘cooks’ are brought in from Taiwan and China to run the meth labs in Myanmar, while the ingredients and lab equipment mostly come from China.

The methamphetamine tablets are a low-grade recreational drug, inexpensive and popular with blue-collar workers and low-end recreational drug users across South East Asia. The price for a ‘yaba’ pill has plummeted from around 200 baht to 80 baht in the past five years.

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% - Speed and Ice pouring over the border | News by The Thaiger

But the Golden Triangle, bordering north-eastern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has a long history of illicit drug trafficking.

It came to the West’s notice as a cultivation hub for opium and heroin refining but those, now, easily detected crops are being replaced with methamphetamine production. The factories are easily hidden underneath the jungle canopy, and with the assistance of ‘co-operative’ local authorities, armed gangs and state-sponsored militias, the precursor drugs and final product move in and out with little trouble.

Once the drugs have made their way through Thailand the drug syndicates use “motherships” that intercept the drugs off the Andaman coast and distribute them to other parts of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Whilst the growth in production and purity of the drugs is alarming authorities, they are also intercepting and detecting a lot more of the road shipments making their way across the Thai borders. But they readily admit they are only netting a tiny part of the larger iceberg.

Despite the frequent showcasing of large drug hauls by Thai police, the vast majority of the drugs coming out of the back-doors of Myanmar’s meth labs are getting through undetected.

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% - Speed and Ice pouring over the border | News by The Thaiger

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Chiang Rai

Tham Luang caves closing for retrieval of all rescue equipment

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Tham Luang caves closing for retrieval of all rescue equipment | The Thaiger

Chiang Rai’s Tham Luang caves, the scene of the international cave rescue last July, will close to all visitors from February 19 to allow Thai Navy SEALs to enter and recover equipment left in the cave after the rescue mission.

The mission, which captured the attention of media around the world and changed the young men’s lives forever, extracted 13 members of the local Mu Pa youth football team who became trapped by flooding last July when they headed there for a post-training one hour excursion.

Mr. Kavee Prasomphol, chief of the Tham Luang-Khunnam Nangnon national park in Mae Sai district, says the closure of the cave would also allow naval officers to document the scene inside the cave. The areas surrounding the cave remain open to the public.

On January 17, 2019, a SEAL team and rescue workers, including British cave diver Vernon Unsworth and park officials, inspected the cave’s interior and found a large quantity of abandoned oxygen tanks, pumps and other equipment.

They entered the cave system only as far as the third chamber, but have not yet reached the location where the footballers took refuge for more than two weeks.

Enjoy The Thaiger’s dedication to the rescuers and volunteers who found and retrieved the football team…

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