South African Leandro Gerardo was one of the volunteers on the professional diving team that rescued 12 
Thai boys and their coach from the depths of a dangerous waterlogged cave system in Chiang Rai province 
in Thailand. Pictures: Facebook

The jokes, groans and eye-rolls started on Twitter even before the announcement - replete with tongue-in-cheek casting predictions.

"How soon is too soon to start boycotting the Hollywood movie of the Thai cave rescue starring Mark Wahlberg?" - Linda Ge

"The movie of the Thai boys trapped in the cave will star Matt Damon as all of the boys"- Ketan Joshi

"Cave rescue is going to make an incredible movie, can't wait to see Scarlett Johansson inspire in her role as 12 Thai boys."- djb

Then, on Wednesday, it was actually announced. The story that captivated the world about a boys soccer team and their coach being trapped in a cave in Thailand is going to be a major motion picture. Pure Flix Entertainment, the Christian film studio known for the "God's Not Dead" series, will produce it.

The announcement came the same day the last boy was rescued. The inevitable pushback was immediate, with writer and director Larry Charles tweeting:

"The Thai cave rescue reminds me of a post modern version of Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole. You've got Elon Musk grabbing attention with shameless self-promoting, trying to shill a new product AND a movie of the saga being announced before the kids are out of the hospital."

Drudge Report tweeted, "Hollywood producers already on scene plotting Thai cave movie" - the emphasis naturally falling on "already."

The speed with which an ongoing tragedy has been mined for intellectual property, as if it were an old Marvel comic book, might seem distasteful. But it isn't a particularly new phenomenon.

The timeline also tends to be even shorter when it comes to the made-for-TV movies. Consider this: In May 1993, Tim Daly portrayed David Koresh in a small screen flick about the standoff between the police and the Branch Davidians - which occurred less than a month earlier.

 As Hollywood's history shows, there's always money to be made from tragedy.