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With a population of 620 million (nearly double that of the U.S.), rapidly developing infrastructure and an expanding middle class, Southeast Asia is poised to become a major region for moviegoing.
“Continuing multiplex development in territories across Southeast Asia is providing new growth opportunities,” says Rance Pow, founder and president of box-office analysis and cinema consulting company Artisan Gateway. “[We] are very bullish on Hollywood in Southeast Asia.”
It is one of the most diverse corners of the globe, which is reflected in the varying stages of development of the region’s film industries — from the rural hinterlands of Laos (where just two to three movies are made each year) to the gleaming modern cosmopolis that is Singapore (home to the local corporate outposts of Disney and Netflix); from raw underdeveloped market potential to globally integrated production prowess. What unites the region's communities is a sense of forward momentum.
Southeast Asia's more-developed countries continue to make their voices heard on the festival circuit — Thai Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul is back in Cannes — and cinema construction in the developing markets is beginning to pad returns for Hollywood, while also buoying budgets and production potential of local studios. Plus, the region's stunning locations are attracting such foreign shoots as Warner Bros.’ Crazy Rich Asians (Singapore and Malaysia). Here’s a closer look at five key countries where the filmmaking energy is palpable.