‘Ploy’ plays modestly in Bangkok

Local fare met with lukewarm response

BANGKOK — Despite strong word of mouth and favorable reviews, local helmer Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s “Ploy” performed only modestly on its opening weekend.

In its four-day weekend session “Ploy” grossed 6 million baht ($171,000) at Bangkok multiplexes.

Meanwhile comedy “Nhong Teng khon maha hia” proved to be critic-proof. Despite scathing reviews and a recycled formula of television slapstick, the comedy sequel plowed toward $2.28 million after two weeks and topped “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

On Thursday, the first day of its second week, “Nhong Teng khon maha hia” took $57,000 in Bangkok compared with the casino heist’s $51,300.

Ratanaruang’s film, produced by Five Star Prods. and Fortissimo Films, generated high expectations before its release because of the star power of its leading actress Lalita Panyopas and its recent outing in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. A story of a rocky marriage, “Ploy” earned $34,200 on its opening day, which equaled the total Thai B.O. for the helmer’s previous movie, “Invisible Waves.”

“We expected a little more with ‘Ploy,”’ said Five Star’s Aphiradee Iamphungphorn. “It is difficult to predict the market these days. Some people may have second thoughts whether they should see the film with the name Pen-ek Ratanaruang as a director. Many still have this image that he only makes difficult movies.”

Ratanaruang’s best performance in his home market was with his third movie “Mon-rak Transistor.” Released in 2001, it earned $571,000.

Films starring TV comedians are a much more surefire bet in these days of Thailand’s uncertain politics and Bangkok street protests. “Nhong Teng khon maha hia,” starring funnymen Nhong Cha-cha-cha and Teng Terdterng, remained solid at the B.O. “Nhong Teng khon maha hia” is co-produced by Sahamongkol Film and Work Point, a TV production company that hit the jackpot with the first “Nhong Teng” movie, which grossed $2.8 million last year.

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