Whereas many other countries have imported American movies as their primary film entertainment, Thailand has long nurtured its own thriving film, television and movie industry. Recently Thai filmmaking has been receiving more international critical acclaim with the 2010 Thai move , “Uncle Boonmee: Who Can Recall His Past Lives” by director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, that won the Plam D’Or ward at the Cannes Film Festival.
In addition to its domestic film industry, Thailand has also been building a reputation for itself as a quality alternative destination for foreign and Hollywood filmmakers. Recent Hollywood films made in Thailand include “Hangover 2”, “Bangkok Dangerous” with Nicholas Cage. Past favorites have included “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Deer Hunter” with Robert De Niro and “Year of the Dragon” with Mickey Rourke.
During the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival, the Thailand Film Office (Part of Thailand’s Department of Tourism) revealed its new ad campaign to inspire international film makers to “Unleash Their Imagination in Thailand”, by using the natural beauty of Thailand to re-create other international locations. Over the last several years, numerous films, television shows, music videos, TV commercials and still shoots have been on location in Thailand to use the country’s visual assets in order to “double” it as another location. Spots in Thailand have been transformed through the camera lens into modern day China, 1940’s Shanghai, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Medieval Europe, New York City and even a magical underwater world, just to name a few.
In effect of the impressive foreign income brought into the country through film crews, Thailand’s Cabinet decided in April to not tax foreign actors’ earnings on films made in the country. This decision was likely brought about in part due to the recent filming of “The Hangover 2” in Thailand, and the vast exposure this film is expected to bring to the country. The Thailand Film Office also reported that the film crew and directors spent over 500 million baht over the 40 days spent filming in Thailand, providing another testament to the high income potential of foreign filming.
In other signs that the Thai government is notching up its support of the film industry, in November 2010 the Thai Cabinet agreed to nix fees for shooting permits on properties owned by the government, including national parks, the railway system and the gleaming Suvarnabhumi international airport.
Thailand’s BOI (Board of Investment) also encourages Thai motion picture production by providing for exemption of import duties on machinery for film making, regardless of location, and a five-year corporate income tax exemption.
Lastly, the Thailand Film Office has since 2007 operated a “One -stop Service Center” for filmmakers to obtain necessary permits and visas within three days, in order to legally film in Thailand.
As Thailand Business Lawyers, we have noticed a spike in inquiries related to the film industry in Thailand.