The 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach may not have broken box office records but it did help Phuket and the surrounding area break previous tourism records as travellers flocked to Maya Bay to swim in the same green waters and frolic on the same white sand as “Leo”.
While here, many also made the pilgrimage to Koh Tapu, more widely know as James Bond Island, location for one of the most dramatic scenes in the 1974 Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun. Movie makers like the spectacular scenery and bright sunlight of the Andaman coast, and dozens come here every year. That translates into very good business for Thailand.
Filming in Thailand
In 1922 Miss Suwanna of Siam was the first Hollywood movie shot on location in Thailand.
No copies of the black-and-white silent movie have survived. But its success in promoting the delights of Thailand (then Siam) was, decades later, an inspiration for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which recognised the potential of movies to boost tourism. As a result, the TAT now plays a big roll in supporting film crews shooting footage in Thailand.
In February this year the Minister of Tourism and Sports chaired a meeting to set guidelines for the establishment of a one-stop service center for movies in Thailand. The meeting resolved to assist the making of movies, TV commercials, music videos, TV shows, documentary that are perceived as having no negative impact to the country, with an application consideration process of not more than three days, and using the Internet to share data and documents among the various government departments involved.
Money from Movies
Quite apart from the ability of film to showcase Thailand’s attractions and attract tourists, the movie industry is itself an increasingly lucrative source of income for Thailand.
In 2006, a banner year, Thailand earned 1.9 billion baht from a total of 491 productions shot wholly or partially in the country.
This year, 263 foreign feature films, TV series, documentaries, advertisements and music videos have been shot in Thailand, bringing in 488 million baht – and there are still months to go to the end of the year.
Films shot in the Andaman region
The Andaman coast, which includes Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, is particularly popular among movie makers. Here’s a partial list of recent major film productions incorporating scenes shot in the area:
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) starring Roger Moore
The Killing Fields (1984) starring Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor and John Malkovich
Good Morning Vietnam (1987) starring Robin Williams and Forest Whitaker
Casualties of War (1989) starring Michael J. Fox, Sean Penn and Don Harvey
Heaven and Earth (1993) starring Haing S. Ngor and Joan Chen
Cutthroat Island (1995) starring Geena Davis and Mathew Modine
The Phantom (1996), Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Zane
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh
Return to Paradise (1998) stars Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix
The Beach (2000), Leonado DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton
Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason (2004) starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant
Mysterious Island (2004) starring Kyle MacLachlan, Gabrielle Anwar and Patrick Stewart
Stealth (2004), Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx
Rescue Dawn (2005) starring Christian Bale
Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman
Did You Know?
A representative from Thailand Film Office, which is part of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, must be in attendance at shooting locations for foreign film productions. This representative is there to ensure that what is being shot follows the approved script. If a scene differs from the script, the officer has the authority to decide whether shooting may proceed or not.