×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Thailand: The Economy Is Rising, and So Are TV Opportunities

International Profile: Country's main lures are its spectacular scenery for location work and well-appointed facilities

Thailand has a solid tradition of moviegoing, but its main lures for bizzers are its spectacular scenery for location work and well-appointed facilities. There were 636 foreign productions shot in the nation last year, a rise of 45% over the previous annum. Los Angeles location manager Michael J. Burmeister, whose recent resume includes “Spider-Man” and the “Twilight” saga, says the infrastructure is as good as that in Los Angeles. “The production design is good, the soundstages are cheap and the level of craftsmanship is very high,” he enthuses. The film and television industry in Thailand contributed $2.2 billion to the country’s economy and supported 86,600 jobs in 2011, the most recent year for which those figures are available. The sector is so strong that the government recently bowed a Thailand Intl. Film Destination Festival. And the digital boom is creating opportunities in the nation’s TV sector.

LOGISTICS

Bangkok is a busy metropolis with often hellish traffic, but the buzz is fantastic, and its young people crowd shopping malls and outdoor eateries late into the evening. It’s a long schlep from Europe and the U.K., but those who’ve made the trek say it’s worth it.

(Nightlife, Bangkok)

LOCATION SITES

The city of Chiang Mai in the north is considered a top destination. Phuket and Phi Phi island are home to some fabulous beaches. Ko Tapu has been called James Bond Island since it was featured in 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun.” For coral reefs, there’s Ko Tao, while Bangkok has dazzling palaces. Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park in Chiang Mai is a paradise of flora, while mountains and forests are plentiful in the northwestern province of Mae Hong Son.

(Spice Shop post-production house in Bangkok)

OLD PERCEPTIONS

Many people think of Buddhist temples or of clubs that provided sexual R&R for soldiers during the Vietnam war. Tales persist about both extremes, and of a mysterious Yank linked to various intelligence operations in the region during the 1950s. In 1967, he walked into the Malaysian jungle and disappeared, but his legend is going strong in Thailand.

(“Hangover II”)

FILM INDUSTRY

Thailand lures foreign productions because they bring in direct revenue, and help attract tourists. Foreign companies will find facilities aplenty. Matthew Szabo, director of operations at the Spice Shop post-production house in Bangkok, boasts that his operation is 30% faster and cheaper than Europe. Don Robinson, head of Siamlite Intl., touts his company’s facilities and staffing levels. “And if you need something and we don’t have it here, we’ll get it in L.A. or Hong Kong,” he says. The industry generated tax revenues of $81.4 million in 2011, according to the Motion Picture Assn. Meanwhile, the National Federation of Thai Film Assns. expects the local pic industry to double in size this year, with the key films being “King Naresuan 5,” “Tom yum goong 2” and horror pic “Pee mak phra khanong.” Big Western movies in recent years include “Hangover II” and “The Impossible.” The massive success of the Chinese movie “Lost in Thailand” has resulted in a noticeable rise in the number of Chinese tourists.

(“The Impossible”)

WORDS OF CAUTION

Thailand is popular as an American tourist venue, and Americans are welcome, but English is not as pervasive as one might think. Thailand also is prone to major political upheavals, but is a country that is able to thrive, despite an often bewildering level of political instability, largely because it is unified in its reverence for the monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was elected to replace Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose coalition government came to power in December 2008 after a court decision. Her election was the nation’s second since the military ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup in 2006 for corruption.

BIZ OPPORTUNITIES

The World Bank forecasts the Thai economy will grow 5.3% this year, up from the 5% prediction it made in December, while the nation’s currency, the baht, has risen approximately 4% against the dollar this year, and is at levels not seen since the Asian financial crisis in 1997. As the country’s political problems ease, Thailand is emerging as a darling of global investors, says economic analyst Paul Krake of View from the Peak.

(Royal palace, Bangkok)

TV INDUSTRY

Competition in the Thai TV market is intense. The pay TV business is growing strongly, with revenues up 53% last year, according to the Hong Kong-based TV org, Casbaa. More than half of households watch programs via satellite, the highest satellite TV penetration in the region. Competition is expected to intensify with feevee newcomers such as Cable Thai Holdings, GMM Z and RS, as well as the TV Anywhere Web TV service, which allows viewers to access content via multiple platforms.

Thailand at a Glance

OVERVIEW

Size: 198,120 SQ. Miles

Largest city: Bangkok, 6.9 million people

Currency: Baht

Religion: 94% Buddhist

AUDIENCE DEMOS

Population: 67.5 million

Urban dwellers: 34%

Average age: 34.7

NOTABLE BIZZER

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose film “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” took the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010.

DIGITAL STATS

Mobile phones: 77.6 million

Online users: 17.4 million

Landlines: 6.6 million

TERRESTRIAL TV

Military-owned: 2

Government-run: 4

(Pictured Up Top: Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn on the set of “Only God Forgives.”)

More Film

  • The Jesus Rolls

    Rome Film Review: 'The Jesus Rolls'

    The Jesus lives! The oddball bowling obsessive immortalized by John Turturro in “The Big Lebowski” resurfaces two decades later in “The Jesus Rolls,” a road movie every bit as eccentric as the character he played in the 1998 cult favorite. In a way, the “Lebowski” connection does a disservice to Turturro’s film — an in-spirit [...]

  • Abominable

    Malaysia Orders Cuts to 'Abominable' Over Controversial Map Scene

    Malaysia has ordered cuts to the U.S.-Chinese animated feature “Abominable,” which includes a scene involving a map that portrays China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The map scene has already caused the film to be banned in Vietnam. The Philippines foreign minister Teodoro Locsin this week called for “Abominable” to be boycotted, [...]

  • Kung Fu Panda 3

    Universal's Beijing Resort to Partner With Alibaba on Digitization

    Amid fierce controversy about the leverage China has over U.S. entertainment firms with significant mainland operations, Universal Beijing Resort and Alibaba announced a strategic partnership Thursday to digitize the forthcoming theme park in China’s capital. Facial recognition and the use of big data will be the norm at the new resort, which will use an [...]

  • They Shall Not Grow Old restoration

    Peter Jackson Documentary 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Nabs Limited China Release

    The Peter Jackson produced and directed World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” will hit Chinese theaters on November 11. Though it will roll out nationwide, it will do so via the China’s National Arthouse Alliance, which has limited screens. The 2018 documentary puts together interviews with WWI veterans and more than 100-year-old [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    'Zombieland: Double Tap' Hopes to Recapture Raunchy Zombie Magic, 10 Years Later

    Audiences may have a few questions about the sequel to 2009’s hit “Zombieland,” which opens Friday. Why did it take 10 years to make a second one, after the first grossed $102.4 million worldwide on a $23 million budget, making it the third-biggest zombie movie of all time (second-biggest if you don’t count “Hotel Transylvania,” [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content