Dozens of foreign films have been shot in Thailand, with the kingdom either playing itself or standing in for a neighboring country, such as Vietnam or Cambodia.
The availability of elephants, exotic jungle and beach settings, relatively low production costs, and a mature domestic film industry that provides a legion of experienced crew members, have made Thailand an attractive location for many Hollywood films and other foreign productions.
Films set in Thailand include
Around the World in Eighty Days, The Big Boss, The Man with the Golden Gun and The Beach. And Thailand has been used as a stand-in setting for such Vietnam War-era films as The Deer Hunter, Good Morning Vietnam, Casualties of War and The Killing Fields.
In addition to providing work for Thai film crews and extras (including the Royal Thai Army), films that use Thailand as a location help Thailand promote itself as a tourist destination. As a result, the
Tourism Authority of Thailand is keenly interested in attracting production companies to make films in the Kingdom.
However, over the months, the locations of some films have been criticized as being harmful to the environment. The island used to depict villain's hideout in The Man with the Golden Gun is now a major draw for tourism operators in Phuket's Phang Nga Bay. Environmentalists also protested the filming of The Beach, in which the film crew made alterations to the location that were viewed as damaging.
Hollywood has played an important role in the development of Thailand's film industry. One of the first feature films made in Thailand, 1923's Miss Suwanna of Siam, was a Hollywood co-production, made with the royal assistance of King Vajiravudh, who gave the production free use of his 52 automobiles, 600 horses, use of the Royal Thai Navy, the Grand Palace, the railways, the rice mills, rice fields, coconut groves, canals and elephants.
The 1927 documentary, Chang, by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, was made in Thailand. In recent years, even the Bollywood film industry has chosen Thailand as location.