The cinematic outlook is bright with Thailand's major studios and veteran directors planning big projects
Independent filmmakers reigned in 2012 but in 2013, the mainstream studios are aiming to fight back, pledging an exhilarating line-up of projects featuring superstars like Mario Maurer, Ananda Everingham and Nadech Kugimiya.
Veteran filmmakers are digging back into film history and bringing much-loved classics back to the big screen. Among them is horror master Banjong Pisanthanakun who’s transforming the horror romance tale “Mae Nak Phra Khanong” into “Phee Mak Phra Khanong”, a comedy that will tell the story through Mae Nak’s husband Phee Mak and friends. Set in Phra Khanong 100 ago, the two protagonists in this version are played by luk krung stars Mario and Mai Davika Hoorne. The rest of the cast includes the hilarious quartet of actors from “Khon Klang” (“In the Middle”), Banjong’s comedy segment for GTH’s 2008 horror omnibus “See Prang” (“4Bia”)
Moving closer to present but still a golden oldie is the romantic World War II drama “Khoo Kam” from M-Thirtynine’s Kittikorn Liawsirikul. Scheduled for release in April, it has popular TV actor Nadech as the Japanese soldier Kobori who falls for the patriotic Thai woman Angsumalin (Oranate D Caballes).
Also due is “Young Bao the Movie”, the biopic of the popular songs-for-life band Carabao, which originally cast Ativara “Toon Bodyslam” Kongmalai as Ad Carabao and Arak Amornsuphasiri as Lek Carabao. However, with producer Nonzee Nimibutr and Toon withdrawing from the project – Ad is now being playing by new actor Thana Iamniyom – there are concerns that the film will not live up to expectations.
Short filmmaker Pham Rungsri is all set to make his feature debut with “Menu Khong Pho” (“Daddy’s Menu”), which depicts a chef in a TV cooking contest TV programme where the three finalists have different cooking styles.
MC Chatrichalerm “Than Mui” Yukol is finishing the epic “The Legend of King Naresaun” while his son MC Chalermchatri “Adam” Yukol will soon release his debut feature, the action-drama “Tamruad Puen Hode”, starring Somchai Khemklad and Piyathida Worramusik.
A leftover from last year will be Yuthlert Sippapak’s Deep South action drama “Pitupoom” (“Fatherland”), about police and soldiers working in the restive region. It stars Ananda and TV heartthrob Sukollawat “Weir” Khanares.
“Latitude Thee 6” (“Latitude 6”) by rookie director Thanadon Naulsud from new film company UCI Media, is also about the South. It’s the heartwarming story of a banker (Peter Corp Dylendal) who is sent to work in the southern provinces and takes along his orphan niece. He falls in love with her Muslim teacher and is forced to make a difficult decision when the time comes to move back to Bangkok.
Pantham Thongsang returns with the romantic comedy “Rak Ngo Ngo” starring singer turned actor Phakin “Tono the Star” Khumwilaisak.
GTH’s other two projects are from “Dear Galileo” director Nithwat Tharatorn and Sophon Sakdaphisit, who helmed the 2011 hit thriller “Laddaland”
“Antapal” helmer Kongkiat Khomsiri has two projects in the works. At Sahamongkol, he’s got the period action drama “Khun Phan” and a tentative project with the new studio Wave Pictures.
Owned by Channel 3’s Pracha Maleenont and his daughter Tracy, Wave Pictures is new incarnation of Film Bangkok, a company that closed down years ago but which, under the capable guidance of Adirek “Uncle” Watleela and Sa-nga Chatchairungraung, put out such classics in the early 2000s as Wisit Sasanatieng’s “Fah Tailai Jone” (“Tears of the Black Tiger”), Thanit Jitnukul’s “Bang Rajan” and the Pang brothers’ “Bangkok Dangerous”.
Wave will kick off with “Thongsook 13”, a horror drama about a group of friends trapped on a small island where strange things start to happen. Starring singers Chinawut Intarakusin and Cheeranat “Num Cha” Yoosanon, the film is directed by Taweewat Wantha (“Sars Wars”).
Kongkiat, Yuthlert and Wisit are all said to be working on this and upcoming projects for Wave.
After years in hiatus, Kantana Motion Pictures returns this year with a remake of the well-known horror story “Hong Hoon”, a popular TV horror drama from the late ’70s which has been remade twice since. It tells the story of the man who makes human-sized marionettes. It will be set in present day Thailand and marks the directorial debut of Kan Kanjaruek, the second son of Kantana’s president Jaruek.
Arriving in theatres on February 7 is Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s highly anticipated political documentary “Prachathipatai” (“Paradoxcracy”).
There’s also the final chapter in the “Jan Dara” saga by ML Bhandevanov Devakula and starring Mario. With scenes even more explicit than last year’s “Jan Dara: The Beginning”, it’s widely believed that part two will be rated 20-.
Even if “Jan Dara” bombs at the box office, Sahamongkol is expected cash in with the big-budget action drama “Tom-Yum-Goong 2”, which will feature martial-arts superstar Thatchakorn “Tony Jaa” Yeerum for the first time in 3D. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew and with action choreographed by Panna Ritthikrai, “TYG2” also features Choopong “Diew” Changprung and Yanin “Jeeja” Vismitananda. Panna also has a new project titled “Rew Talu Rew”.
Five Star Production, which entered the 3D realm last year with “Dark Flight 407” and “3am”, will continue in the exclusively three-dimensional direction this year with a couple more horror tales, “Jit Sumphad” (“Second Sight”) and “Tee Sam Khuen Song” (“3am: The Second Night”.)
Meanwhile, “Love of Siam” director Chookait “Madiaw” Sakveerakul has decided again shelve his long-delayed big-budget thriller “14 Beyond”, a sequel to 2006’s “13 Game Sayong”, in favour of a smaller project depicting high school life. “Krian Fiction” will hit the screens just in time for the long school break in March or April.
Movie buffs have plenty to look forward to from overseas too, with at least major film festivals – Hua Hin and the World Film Festival of Bangkok – and plenty more international showcases as the months roll on.