Filmmakers are flocking to Thailand


The Thailand Film Office has not publicly released the figures yet, but we can report to you that in 2011 46 countries used locations in the kingdom as backdrops for documentaries, music-videos, advertising, feature films and TV productions. Countries as diverse as Chile (a documentary), Germany (eight documentaries, four ads and six TV programs) and Nepal (one feature) all used locations in various parts of the country. And 2011 was a slow year.

Changes Commence at AMC
You heard it here first. Several months ago, when word of the pending buyout of AMC Entertainment by China's Wanda Dalian Group hit the news, I wrote in this column that there would be changes. They might take a while, I said, but differences in cultural management style would make them inevitable.

Lo and behold, on August 6, the trades all reported that AMC had shaken up its management team. And ladies and gentlemen, I maintain this is only the beginning.
AMC, based in Kansas City, Missouri, the USA's second-largest theater chain, is losing executives Sonny Gourley and Dave Hull, who will leave the company as part of a corporate-wide restructuring aimed at reducing costs. Gourley was with AMC for 37 years and Hull for 40.

As reported by Deadline, AMC said, “As a result of our annual operating planning process earlier this year, we elected to make some structural changes.''

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin declared that by investing $500 million in renovation—"targeting seats, audio systems and screen systems"—he believes he can drive AMC to expand its revenue by 10% or more a year. Keep your eye on this column as we monitor AMC’s future.

South Korea Loses Classic Cinema
What does the owner of a 48-year-old, one-screen cinema do at the theatre's last screening? She shaves her head, of course.

The owner of the Seodaemun Art Hall in Seoul, South Korea, did just that for the screening of the Italian classic The Bicycle Thief on July 11, the theatre's final movie before it will be knocked down this September to be replaced by a hotel.

The Art Hall is a place where mostly elderly moviegoers gathered to watch classic Hollywood and South Korean films and indulge in nostalgia for cinematic days gone by. Seoul's huge multiplexes made it hard to compete financially, so the Seodaemun Art Hall had to close its doors forever.

GDC Celebrates Rapid Growth
GDC Technology is about to ship its 20,000th digital-cinema server. In all, this past year has been a dynamic one for GDC, with 50% market share in the Asia-Pacific region and over 10,000 units sold, Theatre Management Systems (TMS) in place at over 6,000 screens, and overall demand for SX "family" units reaching 10,000 units. GDC has made great strides in growing its presence in the European market and over the last three years has taken close to 25% of the USA market.

GDC servers were selected in 2011 for China’s first digital cinema in Shanghai, and by July 2012 they maintain the country's lead position with approximately 55% market share, close to 6,000 screens. In addition, comprehensive technical support is offered in eight locations: Shenzhen, Beijing, Changsha, Chongqing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan. GDC also offers 38 tailor-made comprehensive training classes to over 1,000 projectionists countrywide.

Thai University Explores ‘Business of Film’
Ever have one of those days when you just want to chuck your job, move to the countryside and live off the land? Well, now you can do just that.

The Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand, is building a "Business of Film" curriculum and is looking for you.

The university, established in 1998, is a medium-sized institution with international academic standards of pursuing excellence in both sciences and the arts, in order to achieve the goal of cultivating human resources for Thailand, as well as countries of the Greater-Mekong sub-region.

Mae Fah Luang Unviersity's campus consists of a large complex of modern, state-of-the-art buildings, spanning more than 800 hectares. The campus is located in a spectacular setting of mountains and trees, an environment conducive to teaching and learning in a clean, inviting setting. As both a regional and national university, MFU provides high-quality education services and resources for neighboring countries.

Dr. Vanchai Sirizhana admits that the new curriculum will generate additional funds for the university but adds, "In 2015, an entire new student base will open up with the inauguration of the ASEAN Economic Community. We will easily be able to draw students from across the region. And what curriculum could be more interesting than one in entertainment/film/TV. And besides, we will focus on the actual business of film and TV as a backbone to the actual development, production, distribution and exhibition sectors, as well as TV exhibition."

So, if you are ready for a change, a radical change, e-mail me and I will pass on Dr. Vanchai's e-mail to you.

Follow Scott Rosenberg on Twitter @scott_cos or on Facebook at D Scott Rosenberg.