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Prince breaks Thai epic into 2 pix

Pix set to unspool on Jan. 18

BANGKOK — Royal helmer Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol has buckled under the weight of his material and will break his coming Thai epic, “The Legend of King Naresuan,” into two movies that will be released at the same time.

Original pic was due to preem Dec. 21; now both unspool Jan. 18 to coincide with Thai Army Day.

The two movies feature related-yet-independent storylines, with the titular 16th-century king as the central character of both.

“Audiences can watch the two films successively, or they may choose to see either of them,” Yukol said.

Pics, which are still lensing after 30 months, rep a baht-500 million ($13.7 million) sequel of sorts to the prince’s 2001 blockbuster “Suriyothai,” which remains the highest grosser in Thai cinema history.

That scored a boffo $19.2 million in Thailand and was edited and presented in international markets by Yukol’s UCLA pal Francis Ford Coppola.

“Naresuan” is repped in overseas markets by Sahamongkolfilm Intl.

Yukol’s publicist says reskedding is not the result of shooting delays, but the director’s intention to mark Thai Army Day, which commemorates the battle between King Naresuan against a Burmese prince in 1592.

The first movie begins with the War of the White Elephant in 1564, when Siam is defeated by Burma and is forced to send the 9-year-old Prince Naresuan to live in the Honsa court.

It’s likely that this first episode will be more of a palace drama, while the second movie, which follows the king’s warring campaigns and concludes at his declaration of independence, is a full-scale action movie.

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