Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Five Star Remastered ready to roll out more classics -- without subtitles

Following the positive reception for its Boonchu box set, Five Star Production will release more DVD box sets of its classic films on the Five Star Remastered label, starting with Piak Poster’s Klin See Lae Kao Pang package.

Coming soon will be box sets of feature films by Euthana Mukdasanit (Butterfly and Flowers and The Story of Nam Poo) and Vichit Kounavudhi (Look Isaan and Mountain People).

Unfortunately for film buffs who don't speak Thai, the discs will not include English subtitles. And it is uncertain whether Five Star is actively shopping their remasters to overseas boutique labels.

The films are pretty historic, though, and would fit the criteria for just about any world film collection. For example, Euthana's Story of Nam Poo (1984) was the first Thai film to be submitted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. And his Butterfly and Flowers was one of the earliest Thai films to be screened at an overseas film festival. It was shown at the Hawaii International Film Festival in 1985. Vichet's 1982 family drama Look Isaan (Son of the Northeast) is an acclaimed look at life in northeast Thailand in the 1930s.

The Five Star Remastered series actually got under way two years ago with a soft launch. The first release was Bhandit Rittakol's rural drama Duay Klao (The Seed). It was released in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the accession of His Majesty the King.

For now, it's strictly the Thai market that these DVDs are being aimed at. Daily Xpress has a story about it in today's paper. Here's more:

[Five Star Remastered is] a groundbreaking project for Thai film, which has never received the attention accorded to Hollywood’s Hitchcock masterpieces or the Shaw Brothers’ Chinese martial arts movies, which have been lovingly restored and transferred to DVD.

“I’m relieved that the Boonchu box set is selling well,” says Five Star’s Kiatkamol Iamphungphorn, who initiated the project a few years ago after noticing the quality of the film in storage was deteriorating fast. “It’s valuable footage that shows our cities as they were in the past,” he says.

Kiatkamol keeps a careful eye on the costs. Each film takes a month to remaster and the process costs several hundred thousand baht. So far more than 30 films have been completed.

As Thai films are not as popular as foreign movies, combining the classics as a package is the only viable marketing option.

The next collection to hit the stores will be Piak Poster’s Klin See Lae Kao Pang package.

“We need to sell at least 5,000 copies to break even,” Kiatkamol explains.

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