Hollywood is gearing up to make a major movie about the explosion that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The resulting gusher of oil that erupted on the sea floor created one of the biggest environmental disasters in U.S. history, but is the infamous BP oil spill really appropriate fodder for a big-screen thriller? Here, a brief guide:
They're really making a movie about the spill?
Not exactly. The script for the project, which is currently titled Deepwater Horizon, reportedly focuses on members of the drilling crew as they first battled the blowout of the oil well. The film then moves on to recount the harrowing fight for survival of dozens of workers following an explosion that killed 11 people, wounded 16 more, and turned the ruined platform into a fiery death trap that slowly sank into the sea 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.
What exactly happened to these trapped crewmen?
According to the 2010 New York Times article on which the script is based, a huge explosion ripped across the entire 400-foot-long rig. "Crew members were cut down by shrapnel, hurled across rooms, and buried under smoking wreckage," Times writers David Barstow, David Rohde, and Stephanie Saul said. Survivors, many shirtless and dripping combustible gas, crawled in darkness to what they hoped would be salvation on the lifeboat deck, only to find another inferno, with the enclosed lifeboats turned into "smoke-filled ovens."
How did anyone survive?
Some jumped into the oil-covered sea 60 feet below. Some fought the fires. Others scrambled to find some place safe on the massive rig, which had quarters for up to 146 people, along with a gym, a movie theater, and other facilities. One young crew member, Andrea Fleytas, seeing no way out, screamed, "We're going to die!" Somehow, though, 115 people managed to get out alive, and the movie will tell their tale.
Is news of the project going over well?
There's definitely excitement in Hollywood about the film, which is being produced by the team behind three Transformers movies, and might be headed by stuntman-turned-director Ric Roman Waugh, who's currently directing the action thriller Snitch. But some film aficionados believe the project will feel like it's exploiting a tragedy that went on to devastate people all along the Gulf Coast. "The survival of the people on the Deepwater Horizon rig is remarkable, yes," says Katie Rich at Cinema Blend, "but it seems like the wrong story to tell about this very real disaster."