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Top 10 movies made in Thailand and Phuket

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PHOTO: tntdrama – Hangover 11 (2011)

Thailand is active in attracting foreign movie makers to the Land of Smiles, and has been for decades. Many famous movies have been either partially or totally filmed around Phuket and other parts of Thailand. From ‘The Killing Fields’ to ‘Around the World in 80 Days’. Here is our list of the Top 10 movies that were made here. Lights, camera, ACTION.

The Railway Man (2013)

A Colin Firth movie made partly in Thailand (also ‘Bridget Jones – The Edge of Reason’, 2004), ‘The Railway Man’ is a 2013 British–Australian war film directed by Jonathan Teplitzky. The movie also starred Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, and Stellan Skarsgård. The movie follows a tortured soul and his traumas as an ex-POW who was interred and tortured by Japanese troops in camps around the Thai Burmese border. He returns later in life to confront his demons.

From ‘The Telegraph’… “One of the most striking things about the terrain through which the “Death Railway” linking Thailand to Burma passed, is its extraordinary beauty. Much of the scenery is classically south-east Asian: lush and tropical, fringed with rugged, mountainous mystery. It is the stuff of travellers’ dreams. But as ‘The Railway Man’, the latest film to throw light on one of history’s darker chapters reveals, it is also the stuff of nightmares”.

The Hangover II (2011)

Hardly high art but a successful sequel to the original ‘Hangover’ starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong. The film was filmed almost entirely in Bangkok and around Phang Nga Bay including Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton in Krabi. The film gives you the impression that you turn left in Bangkok, travel an hour or so, and arrive in Phang Nga Bay. Also the unlikely situation where you jump on a speedboat in Bangkok and arrive in Krabi on one tank of fuel! The reality is you would have to travel all the way south, around Singapore and then north through the Malaca Straits, a journey of three or four days.

The plot… well, anything and everything goes wrong! Tattoos, ladboys, drugs, kidnapping, car chases, fingers chopped off. That’s about it.

In 2011 an Australian stuntman who was injured whilst filming in Bangkok sued Warner Bros. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

The film had a budget of $80 million but returned nearly $600 million.

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ is a 1987 American military comedy-drama film written by Mitch Markowitz and directed by Barry Levinson. The movie is set in Saigon in 1965, during the Vietnam War. The movie was a major star-vehicle for Robin Williams as radio DJ Adrian Cronauer on Armed Forces Radio Service.

Plot, briefly… man becomes DJ on official military radio station in Saigon. DJ is widely popular with the US troops but very unpopular with some of the military bosses. Man meets woman, man falls for woman, woman’s brother is a Viet Cong pimp.

The film is famous for Williams’ radio broadcast scenes which were largely improvised. It was a critical and commercial success; for his work in the film, Williams won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ was one of the most successful films of the year, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 1987.

The film was shot almost entirely in Bangkok.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

We throw these two Bond films into the same posting but extensive sequences in both were filmed in and around Phang Nga Bay. Ko Tapu, a limestone monolith standing all by itself, has become a major tourist attraction in the Bay and has even been renamed James Bond Island in honour of it’s backdrop performance in the Roger Moore ‘Man with the Golden Gun’. Probably one of the most boring of the Bond franchises but, hey, it spawned a whole new tourism attraction for the region!

‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ was the 18th James Bond film, this time with Pierce Brosnan with a license to kill. The Ho Chi Minh City scenes were shot in Bangkok and Phang Nga Bay, pretending it was some other asian location.

Heaven and Earth (1993)

Heaven & Earth is a 1993 American biographical war drama film written and directed by Oliver Stone and featuring a stellar cast including cranky Tommy Lee Jones, Haing S. Ngor, Joan Chen and Hiep Thi Le.

It is the third and final film in Stone’s Vietnam War trilogy, which also includes ‘Platoon’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July’. The film was shot in Thailand as the Vietnamese government had decided Oliver Stone liked to depict their country in a negative light (it took them Stone’s two other films to figure that out). Town shots are filmed around Old Phuket Town and many of the wider shots of open paddocks and fields were filmed around Krabi.

The film was based on the books ‘When Heaven and Earth Changed Places’ and ‘Child of War’, ‘Woman of Peace’, which Le Ly Hayslip wrote about her experiences during and after the Vietnam War.

It was a box office flop earning only $5.9 million on a budget of $33 million.

Air America (1990)

‘Air America’ was a 1990 American action comedy directed by Roger Spottiswoode with Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. as Air America pilots flying missions in Laos during the Vietnam War. All the ‘Laos’ shots were shot in Thailand.

Plot: When the protagonists discover their aircraft is being used by government agents to smuggle heroin, they must avoid being framed as the drug-smugglers.

Budgeted at $35 million, the production involved 500 crew shooting in 49 different locations in Thailand, London, and Los Angeles. Principal photography began on October 3, 1989 and ran for five months but the crew were called back six months later to film a new ending.

The producers rented 26 aircraft from the Thai military, although some of the stunt flyers refused to perform some of the stunts, with 60-year-old veterans being drafted for some of the more nuanced aerial shots. Sidenote: PepsiCo wanted the filmmakers to use a fictional soda rather than show opium being refined at their abandoned factory.

The Killing Fields (1984)

Not only a film made mostly in Thailand but also an Academy Award winner and a fitting story of the Asian holocaust – the reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 where up to 2.5 million citizens were systematically starved, over-worked or killed.

The film focusses on two journalists, Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. It was directed by Roland Joffé and produced by David Puttnam. Sam Waterston played Schanberg, Haing S. Ngor as Pran, Julian Sands as Jon Swain, and John Malkovich as Al Rockoff.

At the 57th Academy Awards it received eight Oscar nominations; including Best Picture. It won three, most notably Best Supporting Actor for Haing S. Ngor, who had had no previous acting experience. Directer Roland Joffé said, of Haing S. Ngor’s performance… “Haing had been acting his whole life – you had to be a pretty good actor to survive the Khmer Rouge”.

From Roland Joffé… “We shot those scenes in the countryside outside Bangkok. Lots of very realistic looking corpses had been laid out. It was all very disturbing: you’d get a crawling feeling up your back during shooting. And there was a real panic when a farmer’s wife went out early in the morning and got a total shock when she saw them, poor woman”.

The Beach (2000)

The Beach is a 2000 British-American adventure drama film directed by Danny Boyle and based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Alex Garland. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet and, Robert Carlyle. It was partly filmed around Phuket Town and Koh Phi Phi.

Producers got a lot of heat for bulldozing and landscaping sections of Ko Phi Phi Leh beach to make it more “paradise-like” including clearing some of the coconut trees and grass. Local environmentalists weren’t going to put up with that!

The lawsuits dragged on for years. In 2006, Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that the filming had harmed the environment and ordered that damage assessments be made. Producers had made an allowance for repairing any damage but the 2004 Asian tsunami did its own ‘alteration’ of the beach.

The crappy old On On Hotel in Phuket Town, depicted in the movie, has had a major make-over since and now a very swish boutique hotel worth visiting anytime.

Did You Know? Ewan McGregor was cast as the main character before leaving due to disputes with the director. It was speculated that Director Danny Boyle was offered additional funding under the condition that DiCaprio be cast and his character made American.

Around the World in 80 Days (1956 and 2004)

A grand Hollywood epic and a personal passion project for the, then, Mr Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Todd. The epic picture was directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Mike Todd’s company who financed the film by selling his Todd-AO 70mm film format. Admittedly, if you blinked, you’d miss the portions of the movie filmed in Thailand. A 2004 version, starring Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan, had segments also filmed in Thailand, posing as a Chinese village. It was a flop. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia about the original 1956 production…

Filming took place in late 1955, from August 9 to December 20. The crew worked fast (75 actual days of filming). The picture cost just under $6 million to make, employing 112 locations in 13 countries and 140 sets. Todd said he and the crew visited every country portrayed in the picture, including England, France, India, Spain, Thailand and Japan. According to the Time magazine review of the film, the cast including extras totalled 68,894 people; it also featured 7,959 animals, “including four ostriches, six skunks, 15 elephants, 17 fighting bulls, 512 rhesus monkeys, 800 horses, 950 burros, 2,448 American buffalo, 3,800 Rocky Mountain sheep and a sacred cow that eats flowers on cue.” There is also a cat, at the Reform Club. The wardrobe department spent $410,000 to provide 74,685 costumes and 36,092 trinkets.

The Impossible (2012)

Shot in 2012 and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. Hard to leave out this one out as the story was about Phuket and the Andaman’s largest natural disaster – the Asian tsunami of 2004. The story revolves around a British family staying in Khao Lak for their Christmas holidays. The movie starred Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Many Phuket extras were enlisted as extras for the movie. If we had one criticism about this film it would be the focus on the single family whilst the disaster killed up to 250,000 who were never referred to in the film.

Honourable mentions

The ‘Special Thanksgiving’ Award

‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ (2016). One big turkey. Probably better off un-resurrected.

The ‘Blink and you’ll miss it’ Award

‘Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith’ (2005)

Shot in 2005, directed by George Lucas, the finale of the original six Star Wars episodes. There were a few scenes filmed around Krabi Province to represent the Wookie home planet ‘Kaashyyk’. By the time the CGI crew got their hands on the original footage you’d be hard pressed to recognise the scenery.

‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’ (2004)

A 2004 sequel of ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and directed by Beeban Kidron that reunites the same cast members: Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, and Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver. This time, the movie’s plot takes them to Bangkok (some scenes were shot along the infamous Soi Cowboy), to Phuket International Airport, Nai Yang Beach, and Panyee Island in Phang Nga Bay.

An exhaustive list of big movies made mostly or partly in Thailand, HERE.


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Entertainment

Event round-up November 2018

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Event round-up November 2018 | The Thaiger

by The Sponsorship Experts, Paul Poole (South East Asia)

The month kicks off with the last Spartan Thailand race of the year, held in Hua Hin on 3 November. Participants can choose between two different courses, the 21km Spartan Beast race with more than 30 obstacles designed to really push people to their limits, and the 5km Spartan Sprint race with more than 20 obstacles. Kids can compete in the Kids race with distances between 0.8km and 3.2km. 

The following week, on 9 November, the Run Your City 2018 aims to create public awareness of urban environmental issues and waste management. Organised by Thammasat University and sponsored by Ananda Development, the run will take place in Bangkok’s Benjakitti Park and the adjacent tobacco factory and there will also be a fundraiser to support various environmental projects. 

Event round-up November 2018 | News by The Thaiger

The famous Laguna Phuket Triathlon will be held for the 25th time on 18 November. The longest running triathlon in Asia, the event attracts professional triathletes from all over the world, all vying for a spot on the podium and part of the US$20,000 prize money purse. The triathlon is unique in that the 1.8km swim is divided into a 1.3km ocean swim immediately followed by a 0.5km swim in one of Laguna Phuket’s freshwater lagoons. A 50km bike route will then take participants through the picturesque and challenging terrain of northern Phuket before they embark on a 12km run around the grounds of Laguna Phuket. 

18 November is also the date of Thailand’s biggest marathon, the BDMS Bangkok Marathon. Held since 1988, the race takes participants past famous Bangkok monuments on four different distances: Marathon (42.195km), Half Marathon (21.1km), Miniature Marathon (10km) and Micro Marathon (5km).

If trail running is more your thing, head to Chonburi on 18 November for the Xterra Nong Yai Trail Run 2018. Covering 50km, 25km and 10km in gruelling terrain, there is something for both beginners and those more experienced.

The sports industry will convene in Bangkok’s CentralWorld for SPIA Asia – Asia’s Sports Industry Awards and Conference 2018. Launched in 2015, the two-day event shines the spotlight on the sports industry in Asia, celebrating outstanding contributions in the year past. A conference held under the name “The Business of Sports – Asia’s Sports Industry in the Fast Lane IV” will feature panel discussions from 38 leading sports industry experts, discussing topics such as sports tourism, sports technology and diversity and integrity in sports.

Event round-up November 2018 | News by The Thaiger

Later in November, usually around 22, people around the country gather by the ocean, lakes and canals to float beautifully decorated rafts called ‘krathongs’ to pay respect to the goddess of water. Held at the end of the rainy season and the main rice harvest, Loy Krathong is a way to thank the higher powers for the abundant supply of rain for the crops as well as apologise for polluting water sources. 

Lamphang in northern Thailand celebrates its own version of Lay Krathong in the form of the Long Sapao Chai Wang Lakorn Festival. Celebrated for the same reasons as Loy Krathong, this northern version uses giant floats large enough to carry people as it floats along the Wang river. It’s a unique way of experiencing northern culture and get a chance to participate in local activities.

In keeping with local activities, the Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi on 25 November is something not likely to happen elsewhere in the world; more than 3,000 long tailed macque monkeys are treated to a scrumptious buffet of fresh fruit and food curtesy of the city as a show of appreciation for the prosperity the monkeys bring to the city every year. Make sure to secure any valuables and the monkeys are not afraid of humans!

Event round-up November 2018 | News by The Thaiger

Founded in 2004 by veteran international marketing consultant Paul Poole, PAUL POOLE (SOUTH EAST ASIA) CO., LTD. is an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand specialising in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands – acting as a catalyst by bringing them together and maximising the relationship.

We have packaged, sold and managed sponsorship and partnership opportunities for a wide range of rights holders and worked with many of the world’s leading brands to source and engage the right sponsorships and partnerships for them to maximise.

For more information, visit www.paulpoole.co.th

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More than 80 dance groups from around Thailand compete in “SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution”

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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More than 80 dance groups from around Thailand compete in “SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution” | The Thaiger

Dancers from all around Thailand took part in the recent SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution 2018, which saw more than 80 dance groups going head-to-head for the inaugural championships crowns in three categories: B-Boy, Hip Hop and Cover Dance. Held at the popular shopping mall and entertainment mega-complex in Rama 9 area of Bangkok, prizes worth more than 100,000 baht were on offer.

“The inaugural event was a huge success. The passion and skill of all the dancers that took part in SHOW DC’s Dance Battle Revolution 2018 was exceptional and it was very tough for the judges to decide on the winners. Over three weekends of competition we saw dancers from all over the country come and battle for the title of Dance Battle Revolution Champion,” said Ms. Regina Loo, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer of SHOW DC.

Winners of the SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution 2018 are…

B-Boy

More than 80 dance groups from around Thailand compete in “SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution” | News by The Thaiger

1) Comatom                                    2) Asta Flow                                    3) Dot A

Hip Hop

More than 80 dance groups from around Thailand compete in “SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution” | News by The Thaiger

1) I Feel the Hype                            2) Huiii                                        3) Ghost Industry

Cover Dance

More than 80 dance groups from around Thailand compete in “SHOW DC Dance Battle Revolution” | News by The Thaiger

1) Devotion                                    2) ABC                                            3) The Average

“In addition to being a leading shopping mall serving the community of Rama IX and surrounding areas, entertainment and music is part of the SHOW DC proposition and Dance Battle Revolution is one of our signature events.

Feedback from this first year has been excellent and we have already received a lot of interest from dancers and groups for next year. Dance Battle Revolution will be an annual event at SHOW DC and we will build on this year’s success to make 2019 even bigger and better,” added Ms. Loo.

About SHOW DC
SHOW DC is Thailand’s first retail and entertainment mega-complex. Situated on 43 rai (17 acres) of land in the Rama 9 area of Bangkok with over 180,000 sqm and a total investment of 9.5 billion baht (approx. US$ 300 million), SHOW DC opened in December 2016.

For more information click HERE.

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Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous now joined by the Phuket Yacht Show

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous now joined by the Phuket Yacht Show | The Thaiger

ONE united yacht show will now present next January in Phuket.

Event organisers have united to show support for the yachting industry and Thai Government’s drive to make Thailand the yachting hub of Asia.

Phuket’s one and only boat show is to be called “Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous.”

In a joint statement issued today by Andy Treadwell, CEO of Verventia, owners of the Thailand Yacht Show (TYS), Gael and Olivier Burlot, owners of Asia RendezVous, and Gulu Lalvani, Chairman of Royal Phuket Marina, it was announced that the three parties have agreed to collaborate in producing one combined boat show in Phuket next year January 10-13.

The move was precipitated by a request earlier in the year from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to gather the boating industry together in one major event in Thailand to demonstrate united support for the government’s yacht tourism initiatives.

At the same time, since the announcement in August of the Phuket Yacht Show, the yachting industry voiced its strong opinion that there should be only one boat show and requested just such a “get together”, with Royal Phuket Marina being the industry’s preferred venue.

The three organisers were able to come to an agreement in principle last week to merge the Phuket Yacht Show team into the already-announced Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous.

Andy Treadwell explained: “It’s obvious that we needed to make this all one event, and great that we’ve been able to do so in a relatively short space of time – entirely thanks to the industry coming together and getting everyone to agree. The TAT, our partners and main sponsor of the Thailand Yacht Show, also asked us earlier in the year to try to put everything into one show instead of competing and dividing the industry.

“We’re all now looking forward to getting on with the job and building this event over the next few years into a proper international marketing platform for the yachting industry, and for Thailand as a world-class yacht tourism destination”.

Gael Burlot added: “We are very pleased to have everyone on board and a clear plan to develop the boat show. The luxury industries are starting to prosper again in this region, and with the right collaborative promotion in the right strategic places like Thailand, the yachting industry should start to see significant growth in this beautiful part of the world, where there is so much opportunity.”

Gulu Lalvani, Chairman of Royal Phuket Marina, said “I am delighted to welcome the combined teams to work together and produce the best boat show Phuket has ever seen, here at Royal Phuket Marina in January. As the host venue, my team and I will be showcasing Thailand’s marine industry to the world and will work with the organisers to achieve our common objective – to make Phuket and Thailand the central marina hub for the whole of Asia.”

David Hunter, Managing Director for Torqeedo Asia Pacific, one of the show’s main supporting partners, commented…

“As the pioneers of the future of electric mobility for the marine sector, we are delighted to continue our support for the Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous, and we are very pleased to hear that it will now be held at Royal Phuket Marina next January which is a great setting for us and our partners BMW.

“Our participation at this year’s TYS was a huge success, resulting in us winning contracts with the Thai government, including an all-electric passenger boat which will shortly be launched by the Thai PM. We have also had several other new projects endorsed by the Minister for Tourism and Sports, who greatly enjoyed his experience at TYS and now fully supports our efforts to drive sustainable mobility.”

The Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous will take place from January 10-13, 2019, at the Royal Phuket Marina in Phuket.

Find out more about the forthcoming show HERE.

Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous now joined by the Phuket Yacht Show | News by The Thaiger

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