Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tai Hong, My Valentine topped box office

The portmanteau films Tai Hong (Still, aka Die a Violent Death) and My Valentine topped the Thai box office during their opening weeks of release.

Box Office Mojo, back to updating its Thai charts after a long spell, had Phranakorn Film's Tai Hong scaring up an impressive US$483,407 (about 16 million baht) during its first week of release on January 28-31, topping Avatar, Jackie Chan's The Spy Next Door, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Solomon Kane. Featuring deadly ghost stories ripped from the headlines of Thailand pulpy mass-circulation dailies, Tai Hong was a compilation of segments by four directors, Chartchai Ketknust, Manus Worrasingha, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit and Poj Arnon, with such stars as Mai Charoenpura, Akara Amarttayakul, Supaksorn Chaimongkol and Sattawat Sethakorn.

February 4-7 had the Five Star romance My Valentine in the top spot with a comparatively anemic $231,326 (about 7 million baht). The romantic comedy had three directors, Songsak Mongkolthong, Pornchai "Mr. Pink" Hongrattanaporn and Seree Phongnithi, each taking actress Mintada "Mint AF3" Wattanakul through a relationship with a different guy. It topped Avatar, which stayed in second place and Tai Hong, which dropped to third, as well as another new release that week, the bald John Travolta shoot-em-up From Paris with Love as well as The Spy Next Door.

Yet to come are figures from this past weekend's new releases, which included Yuen Woo-ping's martial arts epic True Legend (with a 3D scene in some cinemas) and Jackie Chan's Little Big Soldier, both only offered with Thai-dubbed soundtracks. There was also Terry Gilliam's fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, aka Heath Ledger's last film, in limited release.

It was a light weekend, perhaps letting audiences rest up for the onslaught of seven movies this weekend, which falls on the Buddhist holiday Makha Bucha, and will be a three-day weekend for many. There are two Thai releases, the Phranakorn military comedy Kongphan Kruekkruen Tor Tahan Kuekkuk (Jolly Rangers) and the Sahamongkol thriller Who Are You? (Krai … Nai Hong), plus several Oscar nominees, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air and Invictus as well as the Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic actioner The Book of Eli and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

But the question for this upcoming weekend isn't which movies will rule the box office, but how judges will rule on February 26 in the case of whether the Thai government can keep the frozen assets of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Depending on the decision, there could be a flare-up in protests by the pro-Thaksin red-shirt group, which could lead to a chilling security clampdown.

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