'Langkasuka' has earned estimated $1.17 mil

BANGKOK — Pirate epic “Queens of Langkasuka” stormed the Thai box office this weekend, achieving the strongest opening performance this year for a local pic.

The Nonzee Nimibutr-helmed and -produced movie made a robust 12 million baht ($352,000) on the opening Thursday, a public holiday. After four days the film had raked in an estimated $1.17 million.

“Queens,” produced by Sahamongkol Film, is poised to overtake “Luang Pee Teng 2,” a temple-set comedy starring a Thai rapper as a freshman monk, which is currently the highest grossing pic at $2.35 million.

With a starry cast headed by Ananda Everingham and veteran Jarunee Suksawas, pic began production in August 2006 under the title “Queens of Pattani.” That was changed to avoid ire of Thailand’s southern separatists. Release was previously skedded for the birthday of Thailan’s Queen Sirikit on Aug. 12, but that too was pushed back.

Sahamongkol Film has other pics waiting for a year-end release.

After a troubled production, “Ong-bak 2″ is due to open in early December. Directed by its lead actor, action star Tony Jaa, the movie is widely expected to become the biggest Thai film event of the year.

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