It took 69 days to locate and rescue Chile's 33 "miracle" miners from half a mile below the earth, but "only 26 days for the first film version of the event to be sold." Reportedly finished, The 33 of San Jose is being shopped around at California's American Film Market event, and it seems that Argentina-based global distributor American Video Films has already sold the TV, film, and DVD rights in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, with more deals in the works. How did director Antonio Recio get a movie out so quickly? Should he have? Here's a look:
Recio made a feature-length film from scratch in 26 days?
Not exactly. Recio and fellow screenwriters JJ Barrios and Jacobo Bergareche began working on the screenplay on a flight from Spain to Chile soon after the miners were found alive, on day 17 of their entombment. The filmmakers started pre-production three weeks before the miners were actually pulled to safety, and began filming the movie in a nearby location five days after the rescue.
Who is in the movie?
No A-list actors, certainly. Originally conceived as a made-for-TV movie, the $1 million film stars Colombian actor Adelaida Buscato (Karabudjan) as a journalist covering the event, and Bolivian actor Cristian Mercado (Che: Part 2) and 32 Chilean actors as the miners. The dramatic rescue sequence will rely on live news footage secured in an exclusive deal with Spain's Antenna 3 broadcaster and Chile's Channel 13.
What other Chilean-miner movies are in the works?
Chilean filmmaker Rodrigo Ortuzar's Los 33, focusing on the first 17 days of the miners' ordeal, will begin filming in earnest in early 2011, although he's had cameras rolling since August. The Guardian reports that another Chilean director, Leonardo Barrera, is planning a "sympathetic" pornographic account (as unlikely as that sounds). According to online betting site USA Players, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron are the odds-on favorites to direct the authorized, big-budget U.S. version of the miners' story.
Would a Hollywood version even matter now?
Not if Tinseltown doesn't "start moving a little faster," says Brian Clark in Movieline. Relax, says Willa Paskin in New York, "first doesn't necessarily mean best." So all you Hollywood and other players "hard at work on similar projects, take heart."
What are commentators saying about Recio and crew's rush job?
The miners' story didn't turn out to be a "tragedy," says Matt Goldberg in Collider, so I see no harm in the filmmakers' accelerated timetable. The haste seems unnecessary, says Jere Hester at NBC Chicago. At this point, no movie could be as affecting as "the real-life [news] images, still fresh nearly a month later." In any case, the value of such films is usually slim: "Nearly two decades later, we're still pretty sure the country didn't need three Amy Fisher TV movies."