Thailand Experiences Foreign Production Boom

Amid favorable currency trends and more outreach, revenue from foreign projects for the first five months of 2012 is already 17.5 percent above the take for all of 2011.

Thailand's production industry has this year already exceeded last year's revenue created by projects from abroad.

The Thailand Film Office said that revenue from foreign productions for the first five months of 2012 is already 17.5 percent more than the country's take for the entire year 2011.

Revenue from foreign feature films, TV series, documentaries, commercials and music videos in 2011 amounted to $39.6 million. For the five-month period through May 2012, revenue from foreign productions has already totaled $46.5 million. That is already close to the level for the full year 2010 and on track to overtake a record set in 2008, according to TFO data dating back to 2007.

The TFO cited two reasons for the uptick: increased outreach at film markets and trade shows in Hong Kong, London, Cannes and Los Angeles and the U.S. dollar’s recent gains over the Thai baht, which has reduced the cost of production for foreign studios shooting in Thailand.

It didn't detail how it calculates the revenue.

The office said productions from Japan (59 projects), India (50), and Europe (48) were the biggest contributors to this year’s growth­­­ - particularly in advertising and TV dramas.

Overall, Thailand has seen 335 foreign projects year-to-date, compared with a record 606 last year.

Hollywood productions are always welcomed warmly by the office, because of the high-value PR they bring to the tourism-dependent country. But so far, Hollywood's contribution to the TFO’s revenue spike has been comparatively small, insiders say.

High-profile international productions that have shot in Thailand recently include Only God Forgives, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to Drive (2011). The art-house Muay Thai fight flick, backed by Gaumont and Wild Bunch, stars Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas and is due out in early 2013.

Lionsgate and Latitude Media’s The Railway Man, directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgård, is also currently in production in Thailand's capital Bangkok.

The TFO is looking to capitalize on its early 2012 gains. The body will be hosting its first “Inbound Roadshow” in Thailand for international location scouts, Hollywood studio executives and international producers later this year in a bid to entice decision makers with the country’s stunning locations, domestic production facilities and technical talent.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that a representative from The Weinstein Company has already confirmed attendance. About 10 international studios are expected to take part in the exercise.

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