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Producers strategize in tough market

GMM, BEC Tero evolving to stay competitive

BANGKOK — With a growing number of local films on the market, Bangkok film companies GMM Pictures and BEC Tero Entertainment are making big changes in order to survive in the highly competitive market.

GMM Pictures, a subsidiary of cash-rich GMM Grammy, the country’s largest entertainment firm, formed a joint venture with Tai Entertainment and Hub Ho Hin Films to establish GMM Tai Hub, forming the country’s biggest integrated film producer.

Tai produced 2000’s transvestite volleyball comedy “Iron Ladies,” while that same year Hub Ho Hin entered the biz with “Mekong Full Moon Party,” about the mysterious so-called “Naga fireballs” that rise from the Mekong River, co-produced with GMM Pictures.

GMM Grammy will be a domestic and foreign distributor for pics such as “Tropical Malady,” showing in competition in Cannes.

GMM Grammy is aiming to raise its profile in the entertainment industry, both at home and abroad, beyond the music, television and radio business. Founder Paiboon Damrongchaitham previously tried a public offering of GMM Pictures on the Thai stock exchange but reconsidered when several films posted disappointing box office returns, including “One Night Husband” and “February.” Only “Fan Chan” (My Girl’) was more successful.

“Ai Fak” (The Judgment) was GMM’s last film, hitting local cinemas last month with $1.01 million in ticket sales.

BEC Tero, which plans to list on the stock exchange by the end of the year, is regrouping after February release “Siam Renaissance” earned only $500,000.

Chatchai Thiamthong, VP of finance of parent company BEC World, says the firm will re-enter the business when the right time comes.

“We are very proud of our filmmaking because it brings revolution to Thai film industry, not only at home, but also abroad,” the veep says.

Several of BEC Tero’s films earned good reputations abroad. For example, Oxide Pang’s “Bangkok Dangerous” was awarded the Fipresci critics’ award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000. In 2001, “Tears of the Black Tiger” was the first Thai film chosen for the official selection in Cannes.

Thiamthong says the firm plans to focus more on the distribution business, both at home and abroad, under the label of Film Bangkok.