Thai incentives drawing more foreign film productions

Films4Incentives for filmmakers helped Thailand reel in over $26 million in revenues from international film productions in the Kingdom during the first quarter of 2017, well on pace to achieve the government’s target of earning about $100 million in film production revenues for the year, the Department of Tourism said last week.

Thailand’s top foreign customer for shooting films, television shows and advertisements in the Kingdom was none other than Hollywood. Of the total revenues, companies from the United States provided $4.66 million from film productions in Thailand during the first quarter of this year. The U.S. just edged out producers from Great Britain who provided revenues totaling $4.63 million during the same period.

Government statistics showed that 239 foreign films were shot in Thailand from January through March this year. According to Wanasiri Morakul, director-general of the Department of Tourism, special incentives offered by the government have had a positive effect on decisions by filmmakers in choosing the Kingdom for their locations and productions.

The new incentives were introduced in January. Among them are 15 percent cash rebates for film productions that spend over $2.9 million in the Kingdom.
Close, a film by an English producer, recently received a 15 percent rebate after reaching $2.9 million in local spending.

While the already low production costs coupled with the rebates and other incentives are certainly serving to attract film producers, Thailand has long been considered a top-notch location for shooting and producing films and videos. The stunning and varied landscapes found in the Kingdom provide spectacular backdrops, while the skills of Thai technicians and the country’s well-developed logistics mean that local talent is plentiful and facilitating large productions in the country is relatively easy.

The evidence is in the long list of foreign films, including many Hollywood and Academy Award-winning films, which have been shot in Thailand since the very early days of the film industry. Thailand is also a favorite location for Bollywood, or Indian films. India has one of the largest film industries in the world.

One of the first Hollywood productions shot in Thailand was the 1923 film Miss Suwanna of Siam, which was made with the assistance of then King Vajiravudh. The King gave the production free use of his 52 automobiles, 600 horses, use of the Royal Thai Navy, the Grand Palace, the railways, the rice mills, rice fields, coconut groves, canals and elephants.

The range of films made in the Kingdom has been truly stunning. They include Around the World in 80 Days, The Ugly American, The Deer Hunter, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Beach, The Hangover Part II, Star Wars: Episode III – revenge of the Sith, Rambo, and The Killing Fields.