Foreign Film, TV Shoots in Thailand Drop in 2014 Amid Political Turmoil

AP

A military coup in the southeast Asian nation led to a 12 percent slip in the total number of overseas productions filmed in the country.

Political tumult in Thailand has had an impact on overseas film and TV projects shooting in the country last year, with the number of foreign productions down 12 percent from 2013, but feature films have been particularly hard hit, according to data from the southeast Asian nation's film bureau.

Thailand's spectacular natural environment and lively urban scene make it popular with overseas filmmakers, and big productions shot there in recent years include Hangover II, The Beach, The Impossible and The Lady. The massive success of Chinese movie Lost in Thailand in 2013 has also resulted in a noticeable rise in the number of Chinese tourists.

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However, a military takeover in May 2014, as well as growing competition from neighboring countries, appears to have affected the number of film productions. Last year there were a total of 631 foreign productions in Thailand, compared with 717 the previous year, data from the Thai Film Office shows.

Foreign productions were worth $59.4 million to the local economy in 2014, compared with $66.73 million the year before, according to the film bureau.

The biggest impact was on feature films, which slumped more than 28 percent to 48 in 2014, down from 67 the previous year. The number of U.S. productions was also down sharply, to 26 last year, compared with 34 in 2013.

The number of TV series shot in Thailand fell nearly 20 percent to 86 last year, from 107 in 2013.

Around half of the productions were commercials 294 last year, compared with 346 in 2013 and there were 159 documentaries shot last year, up nine on the previous year, and 44 music videos, down from 47 the previous year.

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Japan was the biggest overseas producer in Thailand, with 133 productions, followed by India with 107, which was down sharply from 150 productions.

The background to the declining numbers has been Thailand’s tumultuous politics. Towards the end of 2013, Bangkok was gridlocked by ongoing demonstrations trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. These lasted until May when martial law was declared, with an army coup following two days later.

However, there are other factors, such as cheaper destinations, including Vietnam and Indonesia, making efforts to market themselves, and also the launch of Pinewood Studios' new facility in Malaysia.

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The film industry in Thailand has shown itself to be remarkably resilient, however. Film production fell by one-third in 2011 after Bangkok was occupied in 2010 by "Red Shirt" supporters of Yingluck's exiled brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, but it bounced back to grow 45 percent and 22 percent, respectively, in the next two years.
 

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