Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Art of the Devil 3 attacks the box office

The No. 1 film in Thailand over the weekend was Art of the Devil 3, or Long Khong 2, which according to Kong Rithdee in Variety scored US$1.3 million (though Box Office Mojo lists a more conservative figure of $665,350).

A tale of torture and black magic by a vengeful teacher, Art of the Devil 3 was one of three Thai films released to take advantage of the summer school holiday and a four-day weekend. (Monday was the calendar substitution for Chakri Day, celebrating the Chakri Dynasty, which officially was observed on Sunday.) Other releases were RS Film's Dream Team about some kindergarten boys entering a national tug-of-war contest and Nak, an animated feature from Sahamongkol about the Mae Nak Phra Khanong ghost character.

Variety says Dream Team came in second, but Box Office Mojo has the lone Hollywood opener, Vantage Point at No. 2, followed by Dream Team and then GMM Tai Hub's romantic comedy-drama Hormones, the No. 1 for the previous two weeks, at No. 4.

Plucky Nak grabs on with a stretchy arm and reaches No. 5, according to Box Office Mojo.

Thing is, I don't know where either Kong or Box Office Mojo get their numbers. There is no central authority in Thailand that accurately reports the box-office figures. If you ask them, the studios and distributors are happy to reveal their figures, and they generally inflate them. The best that can be done, I've been told, is to call the major cinema chains and then compile the figures yourself, or just call the leading cinema chain, Major Cineplex, and go with their numbers. I'm still working on that.

But no matter what the numbers are, having a No. 1 film is good news for Five Star Production, the producers of Art of the Devil 3. Five Star exec Apiradee "Amy" Eiamphungporn tells Variety:

The film did strongly on the opening Thursday and performed well over the four-day weekend. The film has also been sold to 40 countries which were our customers for Art of the Devil 1 and 2."

Five Star, by the way, is the studio behind Wisit Sasanatieng and Pen-ek Ratanaruang, directors who get a lot of love from festivals, overseas critics and film fans, but whose films aren't generally popular in Thailand. Hopefully they will continue to be supported in their creative efforts while the studio's Ronin Team continues to crank out gory but lucrative horror.

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  1. About unpopularity of committed movies in Thailand I read that also the regulatory role of censorship after golpe are more conservative 'cause the audience loves sanuk and chooses flick.
    Besides in a dvd extra shooted in a BKK megaplex pleople interviewed neither knows who Apichatpong or Ratanaruang is. This is upsetting.

    p.s. sorry for my english again, I'm also in a hurry.

  2. Yeah, Culture Ministry official Ladda Tangsupachai told Time magazine: "Nobody goes to see films by Apichatpong. Thai people want to see comedy. We like a laugh."

    So, if nobody goes to see his films, or even knows who he is, what harm will it do to show his films uncut and uncensored?

    The authorities' actions are contradictory.

    Meanwhile, the "sanuk" flicks from the major Thai studios are allowed to screen with little or no censorship, and they regularly make fun of Buddhist monks and have characters acting in all manner of stupid, which I would think would be embarrassing to the image of the Thai nation.

    But I guess the argument that "other stuff exists" doesn't apply when censoring films by independent directors.

  3. Thai censors are permissive with a kind of cinema that isn't certainly committed but rather silly and funny. In spite of in Apichatpong's poetry the dicotomy of rural/urban and nostalgia are concepts wellknow to thai peoples and becomed fashionable again after 1997 crises, he's the target of last censure attacks 'cause he is about that matters very heterodox and unique.
    Besides he never edulcorates the reality he wants to show choosing a documentharistic approach.
    Authorities prefer that audience don't thinks about contemporary matters (it's a worldwide problem, even in Italy we have censorship and politically correct problems) to harangue people and to avoid insurrections.

    The censors target are the clever movies not the silly ones. Concession of sanuk is a right that empties people minds and assures political stability.

  4. If you feed the people enough cotton candy, maybe they'll forget there's no rice on their plate...

    Nice discussion. Also, edulcorate: wow. Talk about word of the day. :)

  5. Hi Rikker! I envy you both because you both live in Thailand.
    "Edulcorare/edulcorato" is a common use world in italian. Beautiful, it's true?
    Talking about today social matters we don't have to underrate the media power. My purpose will be, when I move myself in Thailand, sensitize people against censorship and watch more thai film that I can. :)

  6. Ah, thanks for clearing that up. I was *wondering* where you got that word from. While edulcorate is technically a word in English, it's only in the unabridged dictionaries. :)

    It wasn't in m-w.com's free dictionary, but Google defined it correctly with the handy define:edulcorate feature.

    I think "sugarcoat" would be a more common word for what you mean.

  7. Oh, my dictionary isn't a unabridged version even if it contains the world "edulcorate". Instead the synonym "Sugarcoat" is a world of easy understanding without obscure derivation from greek like the other one (I'm a greecist, you may understand my choise).
    I often like uncommon words.


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