Sunday, January 23, 2011
Prime Minister Abhisit shakes hands on the set of Hangover Part II
Thailand earned 1.8 billion baht ($60 million) from foreign film productions last year, according to a recent press release from Film in Thailand, quoting figures from the Department of Tourism. The earnings doubled the approximately 900 million baht from foreign film shoots in 2009.
India and Japan were the top countries sending film crews with European and South Korean productions following close behind, according to the Thailand Film Office.
The office is hoping for additional growth from promotional roadshows in Europe and Russia this year and also an inbound roadshow of studios, producers and location coordinators.
There's also incentives in the works.
The Cabinet approved the exemption of film shooting fees in areas owned by seven state offices including the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, the Department of Fine Arts, the State Railway of Thailand, the Treasury Department, the Royal Forest Department, the Royal Irrigation Department and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
More incentives approved by the Cabinet are under review by the Revenue Department. There's hope for tax breaks, which would make Thailand even more affordable for film productions.
Film Business Asia recently had a report on some of the movies being shoot in Thailand and quotes from producers. I thought it was a pretty informative and fair report.
Recent films include Elephant White, directed by Prachya Pinkaew and starring Djimon Hounsou and Kevin Bacon. There's also Luc Besson's secretive production of The Lady, the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic starring Michelle Yeoh. And Ewan McGregor has been in Phuket, filming the tsunami drama The Impossible with Naomi Watts.
But probably the biggest of these recent productions is the Hollywood comedy sequel, The Hangover Part II, which has featured a cameo by Bill Clinton (or not) and Mike Tyson in a reprise appearance.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the set last month, and Film in Thailand sent a press release about that.
By Film in Thailand
On December 29, 2010, in an auspicious sign of support for Thailand's foreign production services industry and the Department of Tourism, Thailand Film Office (Thailand's Film Commission) for the New Year ahead, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the set of Warner Bros' and Legendary Pictures' The Hangover Part II that was filming in Bangkok.
Welcoming PM Abhisit to the MoonStar studio was Director-General of the Department of Tourism, Mr. Supol Sripan, assigned by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Chumpol Silapa-archa to provide primary data and information on foreign productions filming in Thailand.
Joining the Director-General were Ms. Wanasiri Morakul, Director of the Thailand Film Office, Ms. Sasisupa Sungvaribud, president of the private sector Foreign Film Production Services Association (FSA), Mr. Daniel Goldberg, Producer, Mr. Todd Phillips, Director, Mr. Chris Lowenstein, Line Producer for Thailand-based Living Films and other members of the movie cast and crew.
The Hollywood production shot 40 days in Thailand, 38 on location and two in one of MoonStar's sound stages. Approximately 500 million baht (about US$16.7 million) was spent on the production which employed more than 450 local crew and 100 Western crew who stayed at more than 12 different hotels around town. One hundred seventy-six various production vehicles were hired, including vans, trucks, cranes, motor homes, mobile toilets, mobile offices, etc.
With those assembled, the Prime Minister discussed tax incentives and rebates for foreign film productions filming in Thailand which had already passed the Thai Cabinet and were being considered for final implementation.
Thanking the Prime Minister for his support, Mr. Lowenstein encouraged him to try and have the incentives fully approved by May 26, 2011. May 26th being the day The Hangover Part II will be released worldwide – right after the Cannes Film Festival, May 11-21, and right before the Association of Film Commissioners location show in Los Angeles, June 3-5.
The Prime Minister liked the idea of setting a specific date and using the movie's worldwide release date as a marketing platform for promoting Thailand's locations and production services industry.