Los Angeles (AFP) – The remarkable story of six boys stranded on a remote island that has been dubbed the “Real Lord of the Flies” is to become a Hollywood movie, it was announced Friday.
Dutch historian Rutger Bregman pieced together the true tale of how a group of Tongan teenagers ended up shipwrecked together in the Pacific for 15 months, after stealing a fisherman’s boat in the 1960s.
A newspaper article Bregman penned to promote his book “Humankind” went viral two weeks ago, sparking a fierce bidding war among Tinseltown studios.
“The Real Lord of the Flies will become a movie!! The last two weeks have been a crazy rollercoaster,” tweeted Bregman Friday.
“Lots of Hollywood studios suddenly wanted to buy the rights to the story of Sione, Luke, Mano, Tevita, Fatai and Kolo,” he added.
Unlike in William Golding’s classic novel “Lord of the Flies,” the real-life boys peacefully co-operated during their time on the uninhabited rocky islet of ‘Ata.
“The kids worked together in teams of two, got a fire started and never let it go out, and stayed friends this whole time,” Bregman wrote in an earlier tweet.
They survived on fish, coconuts, birds and eggs, drew up strict rosters for their duties, and even created a makeshift gym and badminton court.
Rutger’s article published by The Guardian describes how the author tracked down an Australian ship captain who miraculously spotted and rescued the boys.
It has reportedly received 8 million views.
After interest from “a lot of studios” who “bombarded” him with inquiries, Rutger spoke with the captain and four surviving castaways on a Zoom call.
They decided to sell the rights to “The Revenant” and “12 Years a Slave” producer New Regency, and share the proceeds, Rutger wrote.
Hollywood trade publication Deadline said “a low seven-figure deal” was being negotiated amid competing bids from the likes of Netflix and MGM.
New Regency did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
Speculation had been mounting in Hollywood over a possible movie version.
Maori filmmaker Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) earlier tweeted that any film should “prioritize Polynesian (Tongan if possible!) filmmakers.”
Rutger said New Regency had promised to “do everything to strive for cultural authenticity and work as much as possible with local crew/filmmakers,” and would hire the castaways and other Tongan consultants.
“Finally, after 50 years, the survivors have reconnected and the world will hear their story,” said Rutger.
He added: “And we all look forward to the day we meet on the red carpet!”