Tony Jaa's "Tom Yum Goong 2" Spices Up Thai Box Office

Tony Jaa vs. Marrese Crump in "Tom Yum Goong 2"

Because of Tony Jaa’s spat with Sahamongkol Film International -- the studio behind his comeback film “Tom Yum Goong 2” (aka “The Protector 2”) -- over his contract, Jaa has decided to give the company an elbow to face by not doing any kind of promotion for the expensive sequel.

Many were wondering how the film would perform without Jaa’s participation in their marketing efforts.

Well, the studio can breathe a sigh of relief now. The martial arts actioner opened last Wednesday, October 23rd, at the Thai box office and took in a solid $0.44M. By the end of the week, it should finish in the neighborhood of $2M.

The first film opened on a Friday in 2005 and finish the weekend with $2.3M, so although the sequel will probably not do as well, it’s not far behind. “Tom Yum Goong” ended its run with $4.4M, Jaa’s highest grossing film in Thailand. (Worldwide, it grossed $27M, also a best for Jaa.)

Here are the totals for Jaa’s other films, which includes just three installments of the “Ong Bak” franchise. His groundbreaking debut “Ong Bak” took in $2.5M in 2003; The sequel “Ong Bak 2” improved upon that with $2.9M in 2005; and the third entry “Ong Bak 3” tanked with just $1.3M in 2010. Reportedly, the third film was cobbled together with mostly outtakes from the second film to recoup the latter’s cost overrun. (Figures from BoxOfficeMojo.com.)

As you can see, if the opening day box office isn’t front-loaded, “Tom Yum Goong 2” could finish in the neighborhood of $3M at end of its run and become Jaa’s second best performer in Thailand.

Reviews have been mixed so far. The plot is overly complicated for an action film, and although the action sequences are plentiful and competently handled, they lack the uniqueness of Jaa's previous efforts.

Budgeted at $10M, a huge sum in the Thai film industry, “Tom Yum Goong 2” is Jaa’s most expensive solo effort to date. It reteams the action star with the first film’s director and fight choreographer, Prachya Pinkaew and Panna Rittikrai, respectively. The studio ups the film’s ante by pairing Jaa up with the country’s leading female action star Jeeja Yanin. For international appeal, RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan and American martial artist Marrese Crump are cast as their adversaries. “Tom Yum Goong 2” will need a decent showing from the U.S. to recoup its cost.

No release date has been set for the States yet, but if the distributor is smart, it would release the film after Jaa’s Hollywood debut in “Fast & Furious 7” next summer.

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