Major Cineplex and Disney launch marketing campaign

Thailand’s leading movie theater chain Major Cineplex will collaborate for the first time with legendary Hollywood film studio Walt Disney on a year-long marketing campaign to promote the American studio’s superhero movies in the Kingdom, which a Major Cineplex executive said would be a strong driver of ticket sales next year.

The collaboration will focus on films from Marvel Studios, which is wholly owned by Disney, and specializes in superhero movies based on the characters in Marvel Comics. With protagonists such as Spider-Man and the X-Men, Marvel became one of the most popular comic book publishers in the U.S. for decades. Superhero films from Marvel slated for release in the coming year are Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and the new Ant-Man.

Major Cineplex marketing director Vichai Kuntahwatchai said that with the help of the marketing campaign the four movies would drive Major Cineplex’s revenues for the coming year. He said the company has been growing by 10 percent each year and would add between 20 and 30 theaters next year.

Subha-Orn Rathanamongkolmas, general manager of Walt Disney Thailand said superhero films have become increasingly popular in the Kingdom over the past two to three years and the campaign with Major would help drive sales of tickets, souvenirs and merchandise. The agreement is the first significant collaboration with Major and would run through July 2018.

Thais have long been fans of superheroes, whether they are homegrown, Asian or from Hollywood. A Buddhist temple in Nonthaburi, just north of Bangkok, drew international media attention earlier this year when it erected on its grounds giant statues of iconic superheroes such as The Hulk, Transformers, Spider-Man and Alien and Predator to try and engage children and youngsters and interest them in the religious teachings and practice.

The link is not so outlandish as it may seem. Scholars such as the late Joseph Campbell wrote that the origins of modern-day superheroes could often be found in archetypal heroes and myths of religions worldwide. The Thai national and cultural-religious epic Ramakien, derived from the Hindu Ramayana, is a tale of the triumph of good over evil involving gods and humans with powers that are not unlike some possessed by superheroes.

While this may be the first marketing deal between a Thai firm and Disney, collaborations between Thailand and Hollywood have a long and storied history. The Kingdom’s spectacular scenery, unique variety of landscapes and the skills of its film technicians have drawn American directors to shoot a steady stream of popular and award-winning movies in Thailand over the decades.

Famous films shot in Thailand include The Deer Hunter, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Beach, The Killing Fields, The Ugly American, Emmanuelle, Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, The Hangover Part II and many others.

Thai films have also increasingly been making their mark internationally with several nominated for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and one – Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – winning the coveted award in 2010. Others, such as Tears of the Black Tiger, have become cult classics in the West.