Northern Thailand gets $650 mil Kingdom

Film and residential complex announced for Chang Mai

HONG KONG -- Los Angeles-based entertainment property developer Creative Kingdom Inc. is to build a film studio and residential complex near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.

The 175-acre CNX-Wood development will be built in four phases over seven years. Development starts with the CNX Movie World Studios, which Creative Kingdom CEO Eduardo Robles said "will serve as the hub for Asia's booming film industry" and be completed within three years.

"Thailand doesn't have enough state-of-the-art studios, and what studios it has are mostly in the south," said Berny Herrera, Creative Kingdom business development manager. "Chiang Mai offers good weather, better economics than Bangkok and now it has an international airport that improves communications."

Creative Kingdom, which also has animation production facilities in Thailand and Beijing, said the CNX Movie World Studios will initially house eight sound stages of varying sizes, as well as workshops and postproduction facilities that will include color correction and sound mixing studios.

Cost for phase 1 is estimated at $250 million, with phases 2 and 3 costing a further $400 million. Herrera said that investors were likely to include property and finance companies from the Middle East, South Africa and the U.S.

The company has hitched with local partner Living Films, a Thailand-based production services company controlled by seasoned local producer Chris Lowenstein, who was line producer of the Weinstein Co.'s recent "Shanghai," Nicolas Cage-starrer "Bangkok Dangerous" and production manager of numerous episodes of TV's "Survivor."

The Thai government has made increasing the number of international productions a priority of its film development program. Hollywood movies such as "Rambo" and "Street Fighter" were among the 56 foreign films that shot in the country last year, though recent political instability may have dented the country's appeal.