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Curiosity, Economics

Three films that helped put Asia on the production map

Asia is quickly becoming the choice du jour for Hollywood filmmakers looking for exotic locales and cheaper production costs.


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Updated: March 21, 2018

Film tourism – it’s a modern trend. Around the world, many are jetting off to see in person the locations that captured their hearts on film.

The sprawling city of King’s Landing in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones have brought tourists flocking to Croatia’s Dubrovnik in recent years – so many, in fact, that it aided the country’s recovery from a recession, according to Quartz. At the other end of the world, tourists are still making stops at Hobbiton over a decade after the enormously popular Lord of The Rings trilogy hit the big screen.

Asia, too, has experienced its share of movie-inspired tourism – and countries have been cashing in.

Here are three well-known films that have helped boost tourism in Asia.

Eat, Pray, Love

With its picturesque rice paddies and gorgeous beaches, Indonesia’s island of Bali served as the final destination in divorcee Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery in the 2010 film Eat Pray Love, based on the memoir of the same name.

As a result of the book and film, scores of tourists have made their way to Bali to retrace Gilbert’s steps, helping tourism on the island to recover after a long dark spell following the 2002 Bali bombings, according to the Associated Press. At one point, resorts and spas even offered Eat, Pray, Love packages and tours, which included activities like yoga classes, massage therapy and excursions to locations featured in the film, Time reported.

Indonesia was not the only country with specially created Eat, Pray, Love tours. Tour operators also created packages to India, the second of the three countries visited by Gilbert, in the hope that the film would give tourism a boost.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, parts of this action-packed film based on the tomb raider video games series was shot in Cambodia’s ancient Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap. Among the temples to appear in the film was the mysterious Ta Prohm temple, known for the tree roots enveloping parts of the structure.

The film was the first Hollywood production to be shot in Cambodia since Lord Jim in 1964, and it was suggested that it could boost tourism, especially after the moderately successful film The Beach drew crowds to Thailand’s Phi Phi Leh island, The Guardian reported.

Angkor Wat is the country’s biggest tourist attraction, with nearly 2.5 million people visiting the site over the course of 2017, The Phnom Penh Post reported, citing an Angkor Enterprise statement. Though it is hard to assess the exact extent to which the film contributed to the location’s popularity, Ta Prohm temple is still commonly referred to as the “tomb raider” temple.

Kong: Skull Island

The latest adaptation of this classic monster movie made its way back to the big screen last year. Packed full of action and adventure, parts of Kong: Skull Island were filmed in Vietnam.

Though the country has been featured in Hollywood films in the past, Kong: Skull Island was the largest film production the country had hosted before, according to Channel News Asia.

Prior to the film’s release last year, Vogt-Roberts said that he was hopeful that the film would encourage more people to visit Vietnam, Channel News Asia reported.

According to the Vietnam Economic Times, both local and international tour companies were quick to use the film as a marketing tool, putting together special tours for those wishing to take a closer look at some of the spectacular scenery featured in the film.



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Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

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