‘Avengers 2’ confirmed for South Korea shoot
For the best part of January and February, South Korea’s media was brimming with reports that the second installment of Marvel’s superhero franchise The Avengers would be partly shot in the country, although local Disney Studios representatives denied the claims at the time. However, the shoot of The Avengers: Age of Ultron now appears to be confirmed after Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios LLC, officially announced the news on Feb 18.
According to the announcement, both South Korea’s capital Seoul and the west coast port city of Incheon (famous for Gen. Douglas McArthur’s amphibious landing on Sept. 15, 1950, which turned the tide of the Korean War in favor of U.N. forces) will serve as locations for some of the movie scenes. But at press time, speculations about possible casting of a South Korean actress as one of the movie’s baddies still circulated in local media. If confirmed, model-turned-actress Kim Su-hyeon, who so far has South Korean productions Play and Characters (both 2011) under her belt and can speak English well, might possibly take on the role of telepathic villainess Moondragon. It would be her first foreign movie.
A Correction on North Korea
An avid FJI reader alerted me to a mistake in my last column, which I had dedicated to North Korea’s movie industry. I had mentioned the movies The Berlin File and Secretly, Greatly as two examples of North Korean films that apparently made it onto South Korean screens and—so I reported—even placed rather high in that country’s 2013 list of 10 top-grossing movies, outshining many local offerings as well as most Hollywood blockbusters. However, it has turned out that neither of these two movies hailed from the North, but instead were purely South Korean productions. The error stemmed from a misunderstanding on my part of a quite unfortunate classification of the two flicks in the official box-office charts, which listed both as “North Korean spy thrillers.”
To set the record straight, I directly contacted the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), South Korea’s movie industry-governing body, which confirmed that “…merely the storylines of those [two] films revolve around North Korean spies, but [both films] were produced by South Korean studios.” In extension, no North Korean films are ever exported to the South and are in fact strictly banned there. KOFIC: “We cannot import any films from North Korea and they are banned [in South Korea]. While some film festivals occasionally try to include North Korean productions in their programming, it is very difficult to get approval.” I apologize for my reporting mistake and also would like to express my thanks to the reader who kindly informed me about it.
Indies Shine at Thai Awards
Independently produced movies dominated Thailand’s most important local film industry award, the Suphannahongse (Golden Swan) Awards, which were held on Feb. 23, in Bangkok. Dramas Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy and Tang Wong each had been nominated in an astounding 10 categories out of a total 16. While Mary Is Happy (directed by Nawaphol Thamrongrattanarit) won the prizes for Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Supporting Actress, Tang Wong (directed by Kongdej Jaturanrassamee) walked away with the trophies for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor. The remaining prizes went to mainstream productions, including martial-arts action flick Tom Yam Goong 2, horror comedy Pee Mak Phrakanong (Thailand’s commercially most successful film to date, with a nationwide gross of more than $31 million since its release on March 28, 2013), and love drama Jan Dara: The Finale. All four acting prizes were awarded to industry newcomers in their very first movie roles.
Aussie Actor Injured in Bangkok
Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, who plays Themistocles in the current sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, reportedly sustained serious head injuries in late February during a road accident in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, where he was filming an episode block of the fourth and final season of U.S. television series “Strike Back.” While the exact details and circumstances of the supposed accident could not be independently confirmed, some local tabloids reported that the 36-year-old allegedly fell out of a speeding ‘tuk-tuk’ (a three-wheeled, motorized pedicab) after a night out drinking in town.
Shortly after the news appeared, Internet forums brimmed with abrasive comments, ridiculing Stapleton, who routinely performs his own—often very demanding—stunts. “Another drunken Aussie comes to grief when removed from the nanny state,” was just one of the tamer comments posted primarily by expats in the popular Thaivisa.com forum. A poster on movie website deadline.com added to the mystery by claiming that he and his wife had found the actor lying unconscious in a dark side alley off Bangkok’s main thoroughfare, Sukhumvit Road, leading to further speculation that he actually might have been the victim of a street mugging. Meanwhile, Stapleton’s publicist told the Australian daily Sydney Morning Herald his client was “resting comfortably and [is] on his way to a full recovery.” A spokesman for Cinemax, which produces “Strike Back,” said while the incident would not jeopardize continued filming in Bangkok, shooting of the second block, scheduled to take place in Hungary, would most likely have to be delayed by six months to give the actor enough time to recuperate.
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