Thai film industry remains resilient despite obstacles
The Thai government hopes that the presence of Thai cinema at the Cannes Film Festival this year will boost the Thai film industry after another good of the Thai movies at the box office.
At the Cannes Film Festival in France, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) hosted the Thai Night last weekend in the Grand Salon of the Intercontinental Carlton Hotel in Cannes.
The Culture Ministry brought three Thai films from the Thai Film Pitching project to Cannes Festival, taking place from May 15-23, 2019, to present to interested investors.
The three films are Arnold is a model student, 51 Faces of Anne and Doi boy to promote Thai film industry.
Looking back, in spite of ups and downs in the past years, Thai film industry has been resilient. The box office improved remarkably last year.
Nakee 2, starring a Nadech Kugimiya and Urassaya Sperbund, the sequel of the Thai hit TV series was the highest blockbuster, collecting more than Bt400 million in ten days. The movie lifted the overall sentiment of Thai films from the lackluster year in 2017.
In addition to Nakee 2, a number of Thai films crossed the Bt100-million threshold last year. Brother of the Year grossed Bt244 million, Bikeman, Bt142 million, Homestay, Bt128 million, and Khun Phan 2, Bt126 million, according to M Pictures as of the end of last year.
The Legend of Muay Thai, Thai animation film, also hit Bt111 million. Nonetheless, The Legend of Muay Thai, like most of Thai animation features, is still struggling in red because of its Bt230 million in production cost.
Although Thai animation features such as Khan Kluay are recognized for their entertainment value, they hardly made profits at the local box office.
Overall, the total box office of Thai movies screened in Thailand was estimated at Bt2 billion in 2018, a double from 2017. The market share of Thai movies in the local theatres increased to around 20 percent in 2018, compared to around 11 percent in 2017, according to M Pictures.
Thai film industry hopes the momentum would continue to 2019 with Friend Zone, starring Naphat Siangsomboon, already crossing Bt140 million so far after it was released in February this year. Another highly-anticipated Thai films are coming attraction.
Thai film industry is also propelled by international collaboration. For example, a Thai-Korean joint venture ‘CJ Major Entertainment’ planned to release movies including ones based on successful scripts of the original Korean films. For example, Love Battle, slated to hit screens on June 20, is shot in Thai based on a South Korean script.
Classic Again, set for release in the fourth quarter this year, is a remake of The Classic, one of the most popular South Korean films in Thailand.
Plus, the Thai film industry grew in line with an expansion of multiplexes to provinces. Around two-thirds of Nakee 2 ticket sales came from provinces. Meanwhile, the scripts of Thai films have catered more to their audience in different regions.
Mo Lum Mania, released earlier this year, boasted the traditional Isan folk songs. Thi-Baan the Series 2, which also grossed over Bt100 million in 2018, had its characters speaking in local dialects.
Moreover, the shrewd marketing campaign creates the audience appetite. Nakee 2 benefits from strong marketing through various media platforms of Channel 3.
Friend Zone marketing team used social media to raise the hype of the movie before it hit the theatre. The audience anticipation is crucial for film business because the box office largely depends on the performance in the first weekend.
On the flip side, the fierce competition in the first weekend puts the pressure on independent film makers which are not equipped with high advertisement budget.
Word-of-mouth may be too slow to keep an independent film in the theatre. Last year, 10 years Thailand, an indie film, was withdrawn from the theatre sooner than expected. The theatre operators claimed that they had to replace it with higher profitable film.
Additionally, the outdated censor system can be an obstacle to the development of Thai film industry. For example, a scene in Thi-Baan the Series 2 with a monk crying was censored because the censor board thought that it was not appropriate to have a monk crying in the movie.
This is despite the fact that good and realistic script is one of the recipes for success of any featured movie. After all, the appealing of cinema is about the perfect blend of creativity and connection with the audience.