Thai movie studios are already crowing about how much money they've made this year, giving them enough optimism to increase their output next year. So says an article in today's Nation (temporary link).
The leading studio, Sahamongkol Film, will invest more than 1 billion baht (about US$25 million) to produce at least 18 movies in 2006, up from 11 this year. GMM Tai Hub, or GTH, will launch eight films next year with the expectation to boost its revenue to 700 million baht, from 200 million baht this year.
Sahamongkol honcho Somsak Techarattanaprasert said the firm’s production and marketing budget for 2006 would be 30 per cent higher than this year’s.
"Generally, the production and marketing budget will increase 10-20 per cent per movie in 2006, as producers are inspired by this year’s huge success," Somsak was quoted as saying.
He also said the potential for marketing Thai films in Thailand is huge, since foreign films have relatively small promotional budgets. Hollywood films already dominate, so why would they need to spend more?
GTH chairman Visute Poolvoralak said that since the beginning of the year, Thai movies were expected to have generated more than 1 billion baht or 30 per cent of movie industry revenue, estimated at 3.5 billion baht.
In 2004, local movies grossed Bt800 million or 20 per cent of the market value of 3.2 billion baht. "This represents huge growth and should form a strong business base for Thai movies next year," Visute said.
Somsak said "the total market size should expand to nearly 4 billion baht.
"Watching movies remains cheap and affordable entertainment, despite many polls that predicted a decline in the movie industry following economic problems," he said.
So far this year, a few films have raked in gross revenue of that exceeds the magic number of 100 million baht, including Tom Yum Goong, The Holy Man (Luangphee Theng) and Yam Yasothon. Tom Yum Goong earned 300 million in ticket sales from its domestic release alone. Tom Yum Goong and Yam Yasothon are from Sahamongkol. The Holy Man comes from Phranakorn Film.
GTH, which produced the underperforming Tin Mine (though I can't place my hands on any figures right now), did have a hit with Dear Dakanda, which has become the most successful Thai romantic comedy in history, earning 80 million at the box office, according to The Nation's Soop Sip column.
Other recent films haven't fared so well, with Ahimsa: Stop to Run, The Tiger Blade and the colossal bomb The King Maker earning less than 10 million baht in their opening weeks, Soopsip says.
Ahimsa was made by RS Film, while Tiger Blade is from the start-up Mono Film. The King maker was backed by Sahamongkol.
Somchai "Lek" Kittiparaporn, director of The Kingmaker, remains upbeat about the poor performance of his 250 million baht historical epic. He explains that the local market was never a priority for the English-language Thai film, set in 16th century Siam.
"We are negotiating with Hollywood studios to distribute the film. The movie was always intended for the international market, which is why it has an English soundtrack."
Trouble is, I wonder who outside Thailand would actually want to see The King Maker, when there are so many better choices?
(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)