Saturday, May 31, 2008

More horror from Thailand: Coming Soon

More than Tony Jaa's action movies, it's Thai horror films that have really been selling.

Perhap the biggest player in Thailand's ghost genre right now is GMM Tai Hub (GTH), which was promoting its highly successful 4bia horror anthology and the hair-ghost/slasher thriller Body.

Among the upcoming titles GTH was selling was Coming Soon, which will be the directorial debut of Sophon Sakdaphisit, who has been a co-writer with the Shutter/Alone duo of Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom.

With a poster taglined, "The horror that you just saw is about to happen to you in real life!" and a scant synopsis, GTH was able to rack up some pre-sales deals for Coming Soon, according to Kong Rithdee, in yesterday's Bangkok Post (cache). Here's the synopsis, which Twitch posted sometime back:

What kind of scenes in a horror film scares you the most?

When a ghost appears totally unexpectedly?

When the main character does not see the ghost sneaking up behind him?

When at the very end you find out that the main character was actually a ghost all along?

But none of this compares to the feeling of arriving home alone and suddenly being stuck by a feeling of déjà vu that you are reenacting the very same scenes in the horror movie you just saw! Coming soon.

Coming Soon is due for release in Thailand in October. It was pre-sold to Panasia for Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to Screen Daily. Body went to Germany 's I-On New Media and Indonesian distributor PT Cakarwala Pesona Jaya Film, while 4bia has also been sold to Panasia, as well as Golden Screen in Malaysia and Golden Village in Singapore.

The GTH teen romance Hormones, the top-grossing film so far this year in Thailand, has also been sold to Panasia, Golden Village and Golden Screen, Screen Daily says.

Also at the Cannes Film Market there was the announcement of the remake deal for Five Star's Art of the Devil series, which Five Star Production cut with Cerenzie-Peters Productions.

Five Star even sold Soul's Code, starring jowly polymath blue-blood actor/news anchor/columnist/singer/part-time politician M.L. Nattakorn "Pleum" Devakula (also see Thailand Crisis). The movie tanked here in Thailand. I don't know anyone who bothered to go see it. Here's more from the Bangkok Post:

Five Star Production ... revealed that it has struck a deal to sell the remake rights for its black-magic horror Art of the Devil (the Thai title is Lhong Khong) to a production company associated with Paramount Pictures. Art of the Devil is a three-movie franchise, with the latest sequel coming out in Thailand last month and raking in a significant 55 million baht. The three films hang their shock tactics on the occult, rural voodooism and sometimes bloody, slightly yucky deaths. It'll be interesting to see how Hollywood attempts to transform the story, with its strong Southeast Asian supernaturalism, into a mainstream, mass-marketable product.

"We've been in negotiations with our partner since last year, but the deal was delayed by the Hollywood writers' strike," said Five Star executive Apiradee Iamphungporn. "The remake will be based on the theme of black magic - the key visual that got their interest was the scars and tattoos on the characters' bodies. The scriptwriters will work from that."

Five Star also sold Soul's Code, a ghost film that was a flop in Thailand, to many territories, especially in South America (including such small markets as Bolivia), a region that seems to have developed a thirst for Thai horrors. Besides ghost films, the studio has also been pushing a boxing/gangster film, Muay Thai Chaiya, to a decent response.

It's important to note, of course, that when foreign buyers purchase a movie's rights, they do not always release the film in theatres. In many cases they put the title directly into the DVD market in their countries.

But whether for multiplexes or for discs, Thai film studios have been actively selling their wares at Cannes for at least five years, and in the case of Sahamongkol, almost 10 years. Even though the domestic market remains the focus of Thai movie producers, they admit that the "bonus" from international distribution is too attractive to ignore, despite the weak dollar.

Art of the Devil 3, by the way, has opened in Malaysia.

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