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Coppola to back int’l release of Thai epic

Helmer to offer new version, get exec producer credit

BANGKOK — Francis Ford Coppola has inked with Chatrichalerm Yukol’s Prommitr Prods. to produce an international version of Thai box office smash “Suriyothai.”

The helmer, who traveled to Bangkok last week, will release the new version as “Francis Ford Coppola Presents: A Film by Chatrichalerm Yukol” and will get an executive producer credit.

Coppola’s involvement will add $2 million to the already hefty $13 million spent on pic’s production and marketing. It has grossed nearly $10 million locally.

Coppola, who has known Yukol since their days as UCLA students, told Daily Variety before leaving for Bangkok, “I hope the changes I suggest retain the exotic beauty and continuity of the original.”

Prepping for Cannes

Pic is being prepared to screen at the Cannes Film Festival in May. “Time is short and there is much to do, but the film stands every chance of going to Cannes purely on its merits,” Coppola said.

New version will run about 150 minutes, cut down from 185. Coppola said he feels strongly that the original should stay as intact as possible because “it would be a shame to leave such beautiful work on the cutting room floor.” Some scenes will be deleted, while others not seen in the original version will be reshot and added to bolster sections of the storyline.

Coppola will revisit the film’s soundtrack, which was produced in his Zoetrope studio, when he re-edits the English soundtrack and adds graphic overlays to enhance the picture’s flow. “The storyline, while already suspenseful, exciting and dramatic, can be further improved by using a style of language the Western audience is more familiar with,” Coppola said.

Under the new production agreement, Zoetrope also becomes the international sales agent for the film.

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