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Whenever the surging growth of China's box office finally begins to abate, bet on Hollywood to turn its sights toward Southeast Asia. With a collective population of 620 million (nearly double that of the United States), youthful demographics and a steadily expanding middle-class, the region is set to become a hotspot for filmgoing.
“Generally, the Southeast Asian region represents what many believe is the next great global growth story in the industry,” says Rance Pow, founder and president of Artisan Gateway, a cinema consulting company specializing in Asia. Pow points out, however, that the region is a patchwork of development scenarios, with wildly di?fferent levels of industry expertise, cinema infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, and moviegoing habits and tastes. “In fact,” Pow adds, “the Southeast Asian nations are every bit as diverse a collection of film markets as many people commonly understand the European nations to be.”
Despite such diversity, the film communities in most nations of the region are united by a sense of positive momentum. Southeast Asia’s developed territories have begun to assert their voices more confidently at international festivals — Singapore has two films in Cannes this year — while rapid cinema construction in the developing countries has meant a bigger overall pie for both local studios and Hollywood distributors. And the region’s stunning locations and rich cultural histories continue to attract high-profile Hollywood productions — Legendary Entertainment’s Kong: Skull Island concluded a multimonth shoot in northern Vietnam early this year, while Angelina Jolie Pitt recently wrapped her next directorial feature, First They Killed My Father, in Battambang, Cambodia.
Here’s a closer look at five key territories in transition.
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