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Thai film biz grows

Movie industry expects to see upsurge in 2010

Thailand is gearing up for a busy and successful year as B.O. continues to rise for both domestic fare and imported movies. There is also a growing niche for indie fare.

Last year’s big hit was Adisorn Trisirikasem’s “Bangkok Traffic Love Story,” which was driven to box office heights by word of mouth and ironically enough led to traffic jams near the cinemas where it was shown. Pic passed the crucial 100 million baht ($3 million) threshold in its first week and ended the year as the country’s top-grossing movie.

Thai filmmakers concentrate on two types of films. The first category comprises slapstick-style comedies and romantic comedies, both of which tend to do well in the domestic market. These usually have budgets of around $3 million. The other type is films aimed at foreign markets. These tend to have bigger budgets, starting at $5 million and moving up to $15 million.

There were a couple of big hits in Thailand last year, but this year bizzers are hoping for a couple more.

“Box office has been up,” says Sahamongkol Film Intl. executive veep Gilbert Lim. “Some Thai movies have done well, but this year we are hoping for a better year. It feels better.”

There are several sequels on the horizon for 2010.

One of these is “Ong Bak 3,” helmed by and starring chopsocky star Thatchakorn “Tony Jaa” Yeerum; it’s close to completion, and Sahamongkol will be doing pre-sales in Berlin. Jaa was linked to a project with Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen, but this hasn’t been confirmed.

Also coming from Sahamongkol is “14,” the sequel to helmer Chukiat Sakweerakul’s thriller “13 Game Sayong.” Sahamongkol has sold the remake rights to the Weinstein Co.

The scribe behind “13 Game Sayong,” Eakasit Thairatana, has also written the horror thriller “Who Are You?,” which stars Sinjai Plengpanich as a porn DVD vendor whose son has “hikikomori,” a psychological condition that makes him withdraw to his room and communicate only via notes slipped under the door.

One of the big stars of 2009 was indie helmer Aditya Assarat, whose debut pic, “Wonderful Town,” which takes place place in a seaside town in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, won five Subhanahongsa Awards. His new pic, “Hi-So,” starring Ananda Everingham, Cerise Leang and Sajee Apiwong, is expected this year.

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