Friday, November 4, 2011

An ocean of cancellations

The Nation November 4, 2011 3:03 am
An ocean of cancellations

Millions of baht lost as floods hit Thailand's entertainment industry

Thailand's worst flooding in decades has affected every industry and the entertainment business is no exception. That old adage, the show must go on, doesn't apply in this case, especially now that Bangkok has also been hit by the floods and residents of several districts have been told to evacuate.

With many venues facing the uncertainty of flooding, almost all events scheduled until early December have either been cancelled or postponed.

The main concert venue Impact Arena in Muang Thong Thani saw all its shows in late October as well as those in early November axed. The last foreign concert held there was "Yanni Live in Bangkok", with the multi-instrumentalist even pitching in to help with flood relief.

Shows scheduled for late November and those at venues outside flood-affected areas are still pending. Making matters worse is the fact that ticket holders may get only short notice of cancellation as local organisers wait for foreign promoters to call off the shows.

That was the case with the David Foster and Jason Mraz concerts - BEC-Tero Entertainment announced the cancellations only a couple of days ahead.

"I am truly disappointed that I can't perform for my fans in Thailand," Mraz said on Wednesday about his concert that was planned for tomorrow at Khao Yai National Park. "But your safety and security are more important and really matter to me. My thoughts are with you all. Stay safe. Stay strong. I am praying for my fans and the Thai people during this tough time. I promise I will come back to perform in Thailand soon."

As of publication time yesterday, BEC-Tero, which has lost millions of baht due to the floods, was still saying that next Tuesday's sold-out concert by X Japan will take place as scheduled at Impact Arena.

Saithip Montrikul Na Ayudhaya, CEO of GMM Media and managing director of A-Time Showbiz and A-Time Travellers, assesses her companies' losses at Bt10 million and rising.

"We have no confidence in the flood situation and people are hardly in the mood to be entertained," she says.

A-Time has postponed the Thammasat University concerts "Rewat Budhinan: Nong Rong Phleng Phi 15 Pee Thi Khid Thueng" to March 3 and 4 and "Wan and the Guitars" to March 24. "Sea Mix on the Beach", which was to be held at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya on November 26, will now take place on February 25. A-Time Travellers is holding over 10 package tours.

Click Radio provisionally rescheduled the Krathing Dang Fat Fest at Bangkok University in Rangsit from this weekend to December 3 and 4 but says those dates are shaky even though the venue hasn't been flooded.

"It could be changed again because of the uncertainty of the information on the floods provided by the government and the inconveniences suffered by our audience in the weeks to come," says Pongnarin Ulice, the radio station's programming director.

"Fat Fest is our biggest event and we've already lost more than B1 million in advertising. The artist line-up will probably have to change too," says Pongnarin. "But the flood crisis is much bigger than our problem. We are much more concerned about the Thai people."

Theatre and classical music events have also been hit.

"See Phandin the Musical" at the Muangthai Rachadalai Theatre was going to start last month. It'll now be staged from November 16 to January 22.

The "King Naresuan" play set for the Thailand Cultural Centre from November 18 to 27 has been moved to December 15 to 25.

All events planned for this month at Mahidol University College of Music in Salaya are postponed indefinitely.

Although most cinemas, especially in central Bangkok, are operating normally, attendance is low and the film industry is having to adapt to conditions.

Producer Yongyoot Thongkongtoon of the GTH studio says that the postponement of films for which advertising and promotion has already been launched is not a good solution.

Yet a number of Thai films that haven't started advertising have postponed their premieres. Sahamongkol Film put off "The Melody" and "The Kick" to December 8 and 22 respectively.

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's hitman thriller "Headshot" was scheduled to open this week but will now make its Thai premiere on December 1.

The ninth World Film Festival of Bangkok has been postponed from November 4 to 13 until January 20 to 27.

The rescheduling will impact the film line-up but festival director Kriengsak "Victor" Silakong promises to maintain the programme as much as he can.

"It is inevitable that we have to shoulder the cost. Now we just hope that our guests will be available at that time especially our Lotus Award winner, Hungarian director Bela Tarr," Victor says.

Originally the festival planned to show around 80 films from more than 30 countries. The director says the selection will be pretty much the same, though there may be some screening conflicts.

"The highlights are still confirmed. Among them are the festival opener "I Carried You Home" by indie director Tongpong Chantarangkul and Rirkrit Tirivanija's "Lung Naew Visits His Neighbours".

Art and cultural exhibitions have also been called off either because the venues are directly affected by floods or the people involved in the events as well as visitors are expected to face flooding.

Many major venues have been closed. Museum Siam, which is near the Chao Phraya, shut its doors on October 12 and has yet to reopen. The National Museum, the National Gallery and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre were closed over the special holiday. Now they're open but keeping a close eye on the water.

The private sector too is affected. Central Group cancelled its annual Flower Extravaganza set for next Wednesday.

And GMM Grammy's 1Sky has put off the November 11 launch of its set-top box. That will now take place sometime in January.

Perhaps Halloween night summed it up best. Normally a time for massive celebration, this year all Bangkok entertainment venues downplayed the event, aware that citizens are suffering from floods or fearing inundation. The run-off from the north and the high tides were in themselves spooky enough.
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