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Thai studio GTH smashed the country’s box office record with ghost comedy Pee Mak
Thai director Banjong Pisanthanaku’s Pee Mak Phra Khanong, a rom-com take on a well-known local folk story, redefined the scale of Thalands movie market in 2013 The film pulled in $35 million, more than tripling the $11 million gross of prior box office champ, The Legend of Suriyothai (Transformers 3, Hollywood’s most successful film ever in Thailand with $10.2 million, is the all-time number three). GTH, the local studio behind Pee Mak and a string of other youth-oriented hits, then announced that it has begun setting its sights on an even bigger moving target. In August, GTH revealed a partnership with Honk Kong hit maker Stephen Chowto co-develop the first Thailand-China co-production for the China market.
Lost, Then Found, in Thailand
While the first co-production is still forthcoming, Thailand began feeling the impact of the Chinese industry’s rise in 2013. Hit Chinese road comedy Lost in Thailand ($206 million), shot in northern Thailand and released in China at the end of 2012, inspired waves of Chinese tourists to descend on Thailand in 2013, as they looked to retrace the film’s steps in Chiang Mai and have their own exotic Thai adventure. Early in the year, the president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, said the number of Chinese tourists in the region had ballooned, with the area’s estimated 40,000 hotel rooms averaging 80 to 90 percent occupancy. Meanwhile, a local research group estimated that travel related business stemming from Chinese tourism will log a 44.4 percent increase once the numbers are in for 2013.
Thailand’s Tourism Department sought to further emphasize the national benefit of foreign shoots by hosting a new festival solely dedicated to promoting the country’s history as a destination and setting for international films.
And late in the year, the local industry was given a brief scare when a fire broke out on the setof the latest Hollywood title to shoot in Thailand, The Coup, starring Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan. Fortunately, no one was hurt.