Saturday, May 31, 2008

New teaser for Queens of Langkasuka, and a mixed response from the market

A new teaser trailer for Queens of Langkasuka has emerged, featuring mainly Ananda Everingham as a half-naked magical sea gypsy who sleeps with jellyfish, rides manta rays and has an earth-shattering roar.

It's a welcome update to the "70% CG" show reel.

However, what can't be ignored is that Queens was met with a mixed response from buyers at the Cannes Film Market, who generally felt the story was too confusing. I've not read anything yet that leads me to believe it has been sold, despite being screened for a "complet full" screening room. (Though, apparently, the screening rooms are actually pretty tight, with around a 60-seat capacity.)

Kong Rithdee, writing in yesterday's Bangkok Post (cache), has more:

Some people liked it, others weren't so impressed. Neither a ghost film nor an all-out action saga, this film, which cost over 140 million baht to make and features large-scale sea battles, pirate attacks and underwater sorcery, failed to stimulate immediate interest from foreign buyers, even though most of them acknowledged that it is ambitious and has business potential. A reviewer in Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film will have to persuade buyers that a movie from Thailand can be interesting, even when it has nothing to do with "ghosts or muay Thai". Its length is another issue: At the moment Queen[s] of Langasuka is 140 minutes long, and the studio is considering an "international version" that will be at least 20 minutes shorter.

Fume. I hate the sound of that. "International version". I read that and I think "compromised version". But, not having seen the film, perhaps it is genuinely in need of some trimming, for Thai audiences even. Multiplex crowds everywhere would certainly appreciate a shorter film. As long as Nonzee's vision is pure, go for it.

Moving along, here's some positivity from Hollywood Reporter's Maggie Lee:

Queens is 90% unadulterated entertainment and 10% ambitious re-imagination of pan-Asian historical legend. Sumptuous to a sin in production and costume design, with whirlwind action sequences merging realistic Thai boxing with theatrical '90s Hong Kong-style stunts, it has the nostalgic charm of classics like Sinbad the Sailor and a truly exhilarating sea battle at the end.

Imaginative marketing is needed to launch it internationally as a product that does not conform to the only two categories (horror and Muay Thai) which tweak acquisition interest. Jettisoning some of the more static palace spectacles and cluttered back story in an international cut might do the trick.

With sorcery and swordplay, fairytale romance, pan-Asian characters, amazing marine cinematography, dolphins and whales, even kamikaze hang-gliders, the story actually boils down to an arms race to see who's got the bigger canon. Think what Freud has to say!

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