Thai movie company partners with Korean studio

Asia / Pacific Roundabout

Thailand’s Transformation Films—a joint venture formed by leading local entertainment companies Matching Motion Pictures, Film Bangkok, M Pictures, and True I-Content—in late January signed a partnership agreement with CJ E&M Corporation, South Korea’s leading studio, to co-produce a string of movies.

The two companies’ initial project is the teen musical comedy Touching the Sky (Tae Kob Fah), shot on a reported budget of THB60 million ($1.88 mil.) and expected to be released in Thailand in April. In accordance with the partnership agreement, CJ E&M holds the movie’s distribution rights in Korea, China, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam.

During a press conference in Bangkok, Jeong Tae-seong, director of CJ E&M’s film division, said the partnership also gives his company the opportunity to distribute South Korean movies in Thailand.

Everything “Korean”—from pop music to TV series, movies, hairstyles and fashion—is currently all the rage among Thailand’s young and hip. Accordingly, the storyline of Touching the Sky follows two young Thai men on their journey to South Korea, where they intend to make it big and become pop stars.

Sangar Chatchairungruang, Transformations Films’ CEO, said he projected the movie’s local box office earnings to exceed THB100 million ($3.13 mil.), adding that the partnership with CJ E&M also would help to promote Thai movies on a regional level.   

Japan B.O. Increases 6.6% in 2014

The Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan reported that the country’s total box-office revenue in 2014 increased by 6.6% year on year. This corresponded to JPY207 billion ($1.76 bil.) in ticket sales in 2014 compared to the JPY194 billion generated in 2013, also reflecting an increase in admissions of 3.4%.

However, the Association cautioned in its report to take those figures with a grain of salt, as average ticket prices had also soared by about 3% in 2014 due to an increase in consumption tax introduced in March.

The top-grossing local film in 2014 was the war drama The Eternal (2013), raking in JPY8.76 billion. The most successful foreign production in 2014 turned out to be Disney’s Frozen (2013), which earned a staggering JPY25.5 billion during an extended theatrical run that surprised industry insiders, helping to bump up the overall market share of foreign movies in 2014 to 41.7%, a year-on-year increase of 12.8% over 2013.

In related news, another Disney animated feature, Big Hero 6, indeed started the year 2015 big for foreign productions, reportedly having spent its fourth consecutive January weekend at the top of the charts. At press time the movie had generated roughly JPY7 billion ($59.4 mil.) since its release in Japan in the second half of December 2014. It had already premiered in the country on Oct. 30 as the opening film of the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Hobbit Finale Sweeps China Box Office

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy, swept China’s box office during its first weekend since its national release on Jan. 23. Director Peter Jackson’s bombastic finale grossed a reported RMB298 million ($48.4 mil.) on its opening weekend, the highest result in the trilogy. Last year, the franchise’s second installment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, had opened with RMB202 million ($32.8 mil.), while in 2013 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had managed to only rake in $18.7 million during its first weekend. The last part of Jackson’s epic fantasy adventure, shown only in 3D and IMAX 3D, reportedly accounted for almost 50% of all screenings in China over its opening weekend.

The second best-performing movie during that same period was local production 20 Once Again, earning a mere RMB34.8 million ($5.6 mil.). Directed by Leste Chen, the charming comedy tells the story of an unhappy 70-year-old woman who magically transforms back into a beautiful 20-year-old, which of course leads to plenty of hilarious complications.

Bong Joon-ho Joins Berlinale Jury

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho was invited as a main competition juror at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, which took place from Feb. 5-15 in Germany’s capital. In this capacity, Boon joins jury president Darren Aronofsky and fellow jurors Matthew Weiner, Martha de Laurentiis, Claudia Llosa, Audrey Tautou, and Daniel Brühl.

Bong is the first South Korean invited to judge the main competition entries at the Berlinale since actor Lee Yeong-ae—who starred in South Korean action thriller Joint Security Area—was accorded the honor back in 2006.

However, Bong is certainly no new face on the juror bench. He has already served on the juror panels at the film festivals in Busan and Hong Kong (both 2014), Edinburgh (2013), Cannes and Sundance (both 2011), Vancouver (2010), San Sebastian (2009), Jeonju (2008) and Shanghai (in 2006 and 2011).

Nevertheless, his appointment comes as a small surprise, as he was originally only announced to attend the festival as a forum speaker.

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