The story of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for more than two months is on its way to the big screen.
It was announced Monday that the 33 miners have sold the rights to their story to Black Swan producer Mike Medavoy. The film will recount the remarkable plight of the miners who were trapped for 69 days after the mine they were working in collapsed.
Their ordeal and the efforts to free them captured the world's attention.
Among the miners was Edison Pena, who related to CBC News how he sang Elvis Presley songs to maintain his spirits while trapped. Pena took his Elvis impersonation to Collingwood, Ont.'s Elvis Festival last week.
The worldwide interest sparked a race to tell their story — in print and on the screen.
Medavoy grew up in Chile and has produced films including Shutter Island and All the King's Men. Motorcycle Diaries screenwriter Jose Rivera is set to write the script.
In an interview, Miner Omar Reygadas, 56, said he hopes the film will preserve the hopeful message of the miners' experience.
"We want the film to get into people's spirits," Reygadas said. "I want it to emphasize the spiritual aspects, to show respect between people, teamwork and, more than anything, faith. I think that what happened in this mine was a miracle of life, and that's what I want it to show."
The film will face obvious dramatic hurdles in that its conclusion — that all the miners were safely rescued — is already widely known. That much of their trial was in utter darkness, too, wouldn't seem to easily lend itself to a cinematic rendering.
Medavoy, who established Phoenix Pictures after years as a top executive at TriStar Pictures, Orion Pictures and elsewhere, acknowledged that he was initially apprehensive about taking on the film because of the well-known ending. But he said the miners' story reminded him of John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, the 1941 film about life in a Welsh mining town.
"I think of it as all of our lives, just coincidence and chance," Medavoy said. "There's so much drama, and when the drama kicks in, it's really fascinating. And all the drama that plays out above ground can be interspersed."
The production will also draw on the book being written about the miners by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hector Tobar who was part of the Los Angeles Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the L.A. riots. He has been spending weeks immersing himself in the miners' stories and combing through the diary of one miner, Victor Segovia. The book doesn't yet have a publisher.
"There is a deep, textured story there waiting to be told," Tobar said in an interview. "There is a deep, emotional book about family and faith, full of all sorts of psychological textures, waiting to be written."
Production is scheduled to begin next year.