Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Ong-Bak 2 conquers box office
No surprise that Ong-Bak 2 was the top film over the weekend at the Thai box office. All the stars were in alignment, allowing Tony Jaa's martial-arts magnum opus to shine.
The violent political protests that had paralyzed Bangkok and shut down both the capital's airports for a week came to an end on the day the movie opened, which also happened to be His Majesty the King's birthday -- a major holiday.
Families flocked to the shopping malls and packed into cinemas. Seeing how Ong-Bak 2 was on more screens than anything else, it's no wonder most people opted to see the Thai film.
Ong-Bak 2 took a bite out of Twilight, the previous weekend's No. 1, and it clobbered the other weekend opener, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which came in third.
According to Box Office Mojo, Ong-Bak 2 scored more than US$1.55 million from its 259 screens.
Trade journal reports were a bit more liberal, with Hollywood Reporter stating a figure of 70 million baht, or about $2.06 million. Kong Rithdee, writing for Variety, had the same figure, as did Screen Daily.
Ong-Bak 2 is projected to earn 100 million baht -- the first Thai film to hit that milestone this year -- and be the top-grossing film of the year. Sahamongkol Film International folks are already planning a party to celebrate. It's vindication. Until Ong-Bak 2 came along, the biggest-earning Thai film was the Phranakorn comedy, Luang Phee Teng 2, the sequel to the top-grossing Thai film of 2005. Back then, the monastic humor of Luang Phee Teng (The Holy Man) had bested another Tony Jaa film, Tom Yum Goong.
Still, with 300 million baht spent to make Ong-Bak 2, the studio has a long way to go before it breaks even. International sales should take care of that. While The Weinstein Company had initially purchased North American rights to the film, it dropped out when it wasn't sure about the dark direction the film was taking -- that was long before Jaa's on-set troubles.
But there are still plenty of other buyers lined up, with Hollywood Reporter and Screen Daily citing presales to Sony in the U.K., Splendid in Germany, Showbox in South Korea, Edko in Hong Kong, and Madman in Australia and New Zealand.
Additionally, it seems likely there will be an Ong-Bak 3, given the abrupt ending of Ong-Bak 2 and an epilogue that promises a sequel. That would make more use of the 25 million baht Khmer palace built for the film and likely even be comprised of unused footage shot for Ong-Bak 2, of which there must have been a lot of.
(Via Twitch, TonyJaa.blog.fr, Cinematical, The Golden Rock)