First-half B.O. makes locals smile

'Clones,' 'Spider-Man' invade Thailand

BANGKOK — The Thai people are known for their ready smiles, and now, as figures for first half of 2002 dribble in, locally based Hollywood distribs are walking around with big Cheshire grins on their faces: Thailand is expecting its highest-grossing year on record.

Last year saw total box office take in Bangkok and other large Thai cities at 2.9 billion Baht ($69.3 million) while this year, it is projected to be $74 million, according to Rachot Dhiraputra, country manager of Columbia TriStar/Buena Vista Films (Thailand).

Dhiraputra reports that box office receipts for the first half year were $33.5 million , up 20% from the same period last year, another industry first. (These figures don’t include flat sales to smaller provinces throughout the nation.)

Of that amount , Hollywood pics accounted for most of it ($26 million), followed by Thai features pulling in $7 million with other international films accounting for the remainder.

“As of June 2002, sales from 82 Hollywood films almost doubled compared to … the same period last year,” Dhiraputra says.

This year, about 200 Hollywood and Thai movie titles will be released, compared with 172 titles last year, 164 in 2000 and 150 in 1999.

Dhiraputra says that big-budget movies “Spider-Man” and “Star Wars: Episode II”gave the industry a major boost. He predicts more successful results for second half titles, including “Men in Black II,” released Aug. 9, and “XXX.”

Columbia TriStar/Buena Vista’s midyear take was $9.8 million from 17 releases, compared with$19.3 million during the same period last year.

A spokesperson from Warner/Twentieth Century Fox (Thailand) says it was company policy not to release sales figures, but they were reported to have sales of $7.4 million for the first six months.

UIP reported in at $2.9 million, led by admits to “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Scorpion King.”

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