Hollywood
is definitely talking about Beaconsfield – at least, the producers and
screenwriters are. And no wonder. It’s a classic “hero’s journey” story
and one of those “it had to happen to be realistic” impossible tales.

Chatting
at lunch with two movie producers, a distant screenwriter friend in LA
asked what this story would be worth as a movie deal? The producers
decided that $US10 million – a price they claimed wasn’t outrageous –
would be a fast-deal “drop” price, intended to shock the miners into
immediately signing up and scaring off the competition.

After
all, they reasoned, the eventual movie made would not need to be
expensive. Two stars to play the miners, in a tour de force of dramatic
acting without props, sets or big scenes to move through – as intimate
a tale of friendship as you can get, and a massive challenge for the
actors involved. A few lesser known (cheaper) stars could play the
rescuers.

An underground mine set would not be expensive to
build. The small town setting would not be expensive to construct on a
movie studio lot. There would be no major CGI scenes, and the only
major special effects would be for the initial “rock fall” scene, which
would also be the key action scene of the movie, and provide the
“grabber” scenes for the trailer. The rest of the movie plays as a
remarkable human drama. “The more the producers talked about the idea
of this movie”, my friend wrote, “the more excited they became”.

“They
pegged a production budget of $US40 million off the top of their
heads,” the screenwriter wrote. “$US10 million for the rights, another
$US1 million for a good screenwriter, the story is essentially already
there, $US5 million each for the lead actors, another $US5 for the
other cast, around $US12 million for the production, a few million more
for post-prod. Finished movie. And that’s with some name actors
involved.”

And why not use Aussie actors like Eric Bana and
Russell Crowe, who are very familiar to US audiences, to play the
roles? Indeed, agreed the producers.

Peter Fray

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