June 07, 2006


Pixar's CARS made me very sad because it was very boring and it's dedicated to George Ranft, the guy who did the voice of Heimlich the Caterpillar in A BUG'S LIFE and is a story editor at Pixar. I thought, "It must stink to have the worst movie to come out of Pixar serve as your memorial for all eternity." Then I realized that Tim Burton's THE CORPSE BRIDE was also dedicated to George and that made me feel a lot better, because in 50 years people will remember THE CORPSE BRIDE and no one will remember CARS.

I also felt better because there's another computer animated movie out there that's doing very well and is supposed to be very, very nice. It's KHAN KLUAY, from Thailand, a movie about pretty pink and blue elephants. The director is Kompin Kemgunerd who worked on a bunch of animated films in the US like TARZAN and THE ICE AGE and apparently it's a pretty decent flick. What's even nicer is that while it cost over US$3 million to make it grossed over half a million US in its first 3 days and is well on its way to making its money back at the Thai box office alone.

But the nicest thing about KHAN KLUAY is that on June 8, 100 elephants and their mahouts are being invited to a special, outdoor, elephants-only screening of the movie in Ayutthaya province and I'm sure there'll be free peanuts as well.

(Read more at Wisekwai and ThaiCinema.org)


June 7, 2006 at 09:47 AM in News | Permalink


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I realise we're trying to be upbeat and optimistic about everything, but I think your assessment of KHAN KLUAY's financial prospects is a bit too rosy.

For a start, the budget quoted on ThaiCinema.org is a lot closer to $4 million than $3 million. So although, $600,000 is a healthy opening weekend gross, it means the film has to keep that pace up for four weeks to match its costs - and when does that ever happen? I heard that the film has now reached about $2 million after 10 days, so it's holding up very well, but bear in mind that the studio only gets 50% of the box-office take; the theatres keep the other half. So KHAN KLUAY stands practically no chance of recouping in full theatrically. Overseas sales probably won't help much either since the film's parochial tone will limit its overseas mileage. My guess is that Kantana will probably just take a loss and write it off against their copious amounts of lucrative commercials work. KHAN KLUAY is basically a prestige project for the studio - for the whole country even.

That said, the ThaiCinema.org review made an interesting point about recouping from merchandising, a la Pixar. Oddly, I haven't really seen much KHAN KLUAY merch around, which makes me think they may have missed a trick. (NOO HIN, on the other hand, is currently emblazoned across every product you could possibly imagine.) Instead the marketing of the film is pinned on its monarchical element: the release of this film celebrating the Thai monarchy has been timed to coincide exactly with the King's 60th jubilee festivities. As such the film's promotional campaign emphasises that it is every Thai person's patriotic duty to watch the film in order to reaffirm Thai national pride. That Thai national pride is once again being derived from the winning of a war against Burma 400 years ago is the depressing part. Looking past the fact that national pride is a dismally outdated notion anyway, has nothing which could be deemed pride-worthy happened in Thailand since then ... ?

Posted by: Rob | Jun 7, 2006 10:28:35 PM

That's Joe Ranft, rather than George, though the idea of George Raft voicing a caterpillar is rather amusing.

And "George" makes me think of "George of the Jungle," which makes me think of elephants, pink and blues ones, so perhaps this phenomena will overcome its parochialism and become a worldwide hit. Or perhaps just encourage more elephants to take up drinking.

Posted by: Peter Martin | Jun 8, 2006 8:25:08 AM

Got it - for some reason I get the two confused. Thanks for the correction.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Jun 8, 2006 11:40:48 AM

There's Khan Kluay plush toys to be had in Bangkok stores. I saw a kid clutching a stuffed Khan Kluay elephant in the elephant at Central City Bangna. But there should be more, like fast-food tie-ins, etc.

Not being Thai, I wasn't moved by the patriotic spirit of it all, though for some reason I got choked up by the bond between the elephant and the young prince, and later the elephant and the king (the little prince all grown up).

Posted by: Wise Kwai | Jun 9, 2006 10:14:29 AM

An English subtitled version of the trailer is up at divx.com:


If you have trouble opening it, try changing the extension from .divx to .avi.

I think this looks quite entertaining. The CGI is obviously not 100% Hollywood state of the art, but it looks a million times better than a lot of the CGI direct-to-video garbage littering American shelves, a lot of which looks like something farted out of a PSone. I have a gut feeling international sales won't be too much of a problem here - based on that trailer, at least.

Posted by: Rhythm-X | Jun 12, 2006 10:52:48 AM

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