Brief History of Filming in Thailand


The first film shown in Thailand was in 1897, which was a play called “ Parisian Cinematograph”. Due to the high price of tickets the,
audiences were limited to wealthy aristocrats and businessmen. Film became affordable to the public around 1897-1906, “ the early cinema era” with the rapid growth of movie theaters. During this era, more common people were able to attend the cinema because of greater competition, which lowered ticket prices.

His Royal Highness Praongchao Thongthem Tawanyawong Kromaluang Sanpasatsuphakit, the younger brother of King Rama V, pioneered film-making in Thailand. The prince filmed the King in court and Royal ceremonies from 1900 until the end of The King’s reign. In 1992, “the origin of commercial film-making era”, the Public Relations Films Division was set up to produce newsreels, documentaries, and later for commercial purposes, that lead to the important of film-making equipment. In 1924, Henry McRay, an American Producer from Universal Productions asked for Royal permission to film the love story,” Miss Suwan”. Permission was granted and the first Thai-foreign co-production took place. From this point the Thai film production industry emerged as several film companies were formed.

The first Thai film was a 35 mm black and white silent movie entitled “ Chok Song Chun” (Double Luck). “Talking pictures” were first shown in 1927 when Hollywood succeeded in making the first” talkie” using the “ Vitaphone” system.

Development of Thai film industry was similar to that of the West. However, the characteristics of Thai film production were different from the West in that low cost-high quality was emphasized. Therefore, Thai films that were produced were of high quality and reflected the unique Thai lifestyle, which was not well known around the world.

Today, even though the nation is still developing, the Thai film industry has taken great strides to advance as international film technologies continue to evolve. Thus international standard equipment and studio facilities are available. Moreover, with its diverse geographical characteristics, Thailand has the ability to offer a variety of landscapes; coastlines, reefs, rivers, lakes, Rocky Mountains and green plateau. Thailand also has numerous exotic and interesting historical sites, which have been used by many foreign production companies. Such well known films as The Killing Fields, Good Morning Vietnam (20th Century Fox), Heaven and Earth (Warner Brothers) Mortal Combat I&II, James Bond 007(Tomorrow Never Dies, 1998 (20th Century Fox), Operation Dumbo Drop (Walt Disney Pictures) The Beach (20th Century Fox). In fact, in the year 2000, over 402 foreign shoots were done in Thailand, a 15% increase over 1999.