Thai and Kazakh film industries explore joint film ventures

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Living in Thailand these past 16 years, it’s been interesting to watch the growth of the film entertainment industry here. While 16 years may seem like forever, it is only a "tick" on the clock of time.

Recently this growth was signaled by the visit of representatives from Kazakhstan to the Thailand Film Office to discuss cooperative film-related ventures. The Kazakh Film Studios, headed up by Yermek Amanshayev, were in Bangkok filming scenes for their movie Florist. The Kazakhstan government is a majority stakeholder in the Film Studios, which invests approximately US$30-50 million in film production annually.

Representatives from the Thailand Film Office and the Kazakh delegation agreed that Thailand offers many opportunities for co-productions and has a production-services sector, particularly post-production services, that operates to international standards. Both sides will seek avenues for future cooperation.

It's fantastic to see the once-fledgling Thai Film Office emerge as a model for developing film industries of the world.

North Korea Executes Video Pirates
North Korea is also said to have quite a developed infrastructure for its film industry, which is absolutely controlled by the State. The King Father of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, did post-production for his movies in that nation back in the 1960s.

While North Korea used to be a hub for production and post of movies, the energy of the State nowadays is going into stemming the flow of South Korean and Chinese movies and TV soap operas into the country. North Korean defectors reportedly say South Korean TV dramas and movies as well as tapes of South Korean pop songs are being smuggled across the long-porous border with China.

The Pyongyang regime has set up special checkpoints at border cities to stem the smuggling of illegal foreign films and, according to The Associated Press, "publicly executed offenders as a warning against dealing in black-market videos." Somehow we doubt the Motion Picture Association will ever go to that extreme in its battle against piracy.

Indian Entertainment Eyes 10.5% Growth
At the end of July, the latest edition of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report "Indian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2009" was released in Mumbai.

The biggest finding was the forecast that the Indian entertainment and media industry will grow by 10.5% cumulatively during the 2009-13 period to reach 929 billion rupees (approximately US$19.5 billion).

The film industry alone is set to grow from 107 billion rupees ($2.3 billion) in 2008 to 185 billion rupees ($3.9 billion) in 2013. Shares of the film industry are expected to shift marginally from traditional revenues to new, emerging revenues.

Panelists at a special PwC panel on report findings included Rajesh Sawhney, president of Reliance Big Entertainment Pvt Ltd., who observed, "We at Reliance Entertainment change every day, every minute, and focus a lot on innovations. I believe this downturn has taught us to be cash-tight, and the long-term prospects of the entertainment and media industry by and large have remained unharmed.”

The panel was moderated by Timmy Kandhari, leader of the India Entertainment and Media Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Kandhari commented, “The slowdown in growth requires the E&M industry to revisit their short-term business plans and strategies. However, double-digit growth is expected to return over the forecast period, with India recording one of the highest growths in the E&M industry as well as in advertising spending in the world, along with China.”

Japan Enjoys Box-office Rise

By now you may have read that Japanese box-office earnings for the first half of 2009 totaled approximately $991 million, a 17.6% increase over the same period last year.
Local media publication Bunka Tsushin surveyed the top 13 foreign and local distributors in Japan, who account for 95% of the market.

Topper on the list, taking in US$323 million, was Toho and its foreign film distribution arm Toho-Towa ($123 million). Shochiku ($112 million) and Sony ($94 million) came in a respectable third and fourth, respectively.

Contact Asia-Pacific bureau chief Scott Rosenberg with your news items at (662) 982-4525, by fax at (662) 982-4526, or by e-mail at scott.rosenberg@gmail.com.