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Mon, Mar 11, 2002 - Page 19 News List

Blockbuster readied for global audience

REUTERS , BANGKOK

Hollywood film director Francis Ford Coppola, helping Thai producers re-edit an epic film on 16th century Thai queen Suriyothai, tipped the film on Saturday as a candidate for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in mid-May.

The producers estimate the revision will cost US$2 million, taking the total cost of the picture to US$15 million and making it one of the most expensive Asian movies ever made.

Suriyothai has grossed a record US$11 million since it was released in Thailand last August, displacing former box-office number one Titanic, which made US$4.7 million.

The film depicts the story of Suriyothai, a Thai queen during one of the most turbulent periods of Siamese history who was killed riding into battle against neighboring Burma, now known as Myanmar. One of Hollywood's most renowned directors, Coppola said in a statement he would cut the running time of the film to approximately 150 minutes, down from more than three hours, which he said would be more suitable for an international audience.

"It would be a shame to leave such beautiful work on the cutting room floor," he said.

Coppola, who has worked in Thailand with Suriyothai's director and his college classmate Prince Chatri Chalerm Yukol over the past 10 days, will also rewrite the English subtitles to make it ready for Cannes, one of the most celebrated film festivals.

"Time is short and there is much to do, but the film stands every chance of going to Cannes purely on its merits," he said. "We are quietly confident this picture will get the recognition it so richly deserves."

Coppola, who directed the Godfather trilogy, recently released a new version of his 1979 Vietnam War cult classic Apocalypse Now, titled Apocalypse Now Redux, adding nearly an hour of previously cut footage to the original 153-minute epic.

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