Just go there, it's that simple. Click on www.movieseer.com and you'll find a well-designed site that's not too cluttered, that is full of interesting information on movies and movie stars and which is constantly being changed and updated.
It is the largest and most comprehensive
bilingual movie portal in Thailand. Its showtime listings service includes over
28 provinces with 70 listed theaters throughout Thailand and over 300 screens
nationwide. In addition, MovieSeer has recently branched out to cover Malaysian
films, and in January launched a comprehensive DVD section. MovieSeer's cutting
edge information generates excitement, while its programming allows for easy,
fast and entertaining navigation of its website.
One of the best things Movieseer has going is its reviewers: they're funny, irreverent and write very well. Case in point is George Kaltsounakis, a freelance writer from Canada whose bio reads thus: "George has spent a number of years studying film in Montreal and Toronto, to absolutely no avail. He enjoys naps and is nothing if not laconic. He understands if you don't agree with any of his opinions."
Another is American Wesley Hsu, whose bio ends with: "Wesley has worked in a Hollywood agency, for the US Peace Corps and as a film reviewer for a community website and has been summarily fired from all three. His proudest achievements in Bangkok have been creating and hosting a poetry reading and meeting Bernard Trink at a picnic and telling him his film reviews were offensively bad. Trink agreed."
Noted writer and editor William Zinseer once wrote, "Critics should like - or, better still, love - the medium they are reviewing. If you think movies are dumb, don't write about them. The reader deserves a movie buff who will bring along a reservoir of knowledge, passion and prejudice." MovieSeer's critics fit the bill. And true to its bilingual mandate, there are Thai reviews as well as ones written in English.
The site also has film summaries; weekly actor
spotlights, highlighting a new actor or actress currently, or soon, appearing in
a film in the region every week; front page news pertaining to the film
industry, with an emphasis on Thailand; spotlights on classic movies called
Classic Rewind; features on eminent directors, past and present; gossip and news
sections keeping visitors up-to-date of the goings-on in Hollywood and beyond;
and the site also contains quizzes and contests, a chat room and game zone.
Movieseer's founder, Roy Chapin IV, came up
with the idea after being continually frustrated in his attempt to get
information on movie showtimes in Thailand.
Roy came to Thailand five years ago as an exchange student from the University of California at Santa Cruz doing a year abroad. He lived with a Thai family and studied at Chiang Mai University.
|After completing his studies, he stayed in
Thailand and was hired by the travel company of Abercrombie & Kent, which
specializes in high-end exclusive travel around the world. Their main area of
focus is safaris in Africa, but while Roy was working for the company they
posted him to Hong Kong where he handled excursions to mainland China, central
Asia and the Silk Road. Then when he was sent back to the Bangkok office, he was
responsible for trips in South-East Asia, particularly Indochina. When the Asian
economic crisis hit, the company downsized and Roy found himself out of work.
So he then went back to Chiang Mai and three
years ago formed Visual Horizons, a company specializing in graphic design,
programming and compiling databases. While there, he also came up with the idea
of movieseer.com, the entertainment portal. A year-and-a-half later the firm
moved to Bangkok since most of its clients were here and it was costing too much
money to keep sending people down to Bangkok to take care of them. Scott Murray
recently caught up with him and he was kind enough to fill us in on Movieseer
and its operations.
you keep on top of the constantly changing movie showtimes? "We are in constant contact with all the theaters, and we are
adamant that they e-mail us as soon as they effect changes in their listings.
Major Cineplex, for example, by rule, changes their showtimes on a day-to-day
basis to maximize viewing times, so they give us new information every
about theaters upcountry?
"The cinemas in smaller cities are run by larger theater companies, based
outside of Bangkok, and they send us information for all their theaters."
inputs the data for you?
"We have data inputting staff working for us. It's time consuming work, but
we have found that it's better to do it ourselves than copying and pasting
because this method gives people the ability to find information on different
levels. They can search by city, theater, or specific film."
How are people finding out about you? "The hardest challenge we face is getting outside exposure. People know us in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket, but in other places it's mostly through word of mouth, though we do get put up on a lot of message boards. Wesley Hsu did a review of the epic Thai film Suriyothai that got a lot of national and international exposure. In fact, many of our Asian content reviews have been picked up in the US, because no one's writing about them Stateside. A great example is the review for the recent Thai film Jan Dara, by Tammy Stone, which continues to get a lot of hits. We also have had a number of Yahoo selected reviews, including for the Korean film Bichunmoo, done by Wesley."
don't you use more banner or button ads?
"When we started I didn't believe in banner or button ads. I thought that
they weren't viable, and a waste of time to the user, because they take so long
to download. So we have never really used them, or made the effort to do so, and
as a result we have very limited on-line advertising. Most of our revenue is not
directly related to what's on the site. We resell our content to a number of
other websites, both locally and worldwide. We supply one of the theaters with
content, which we can do for them quickly and efficiently with our accumulated
information. We are getting into DVDs now though and that's one of the few
places we do have ads in order to make more people aware of the DVD market, so
that it will grow in Thailand. There are only about 150,000 DVD players here, so
there's a huge potential for growth. I'm really excited about our foray into
about your personal motivation for doing this, did you ever want to be an actor
or a director?
"No, but I have always loved film. It runs in the family, my sister is head
of the Film Department at Dartmouth University. And I lived in L.A. for two
years where I was exposed to the film industry and did set design. I really
appreciate and enjoy the many facets of the film industry."
obsessed with film and movies?
"I wouldn't say I'm obsessed, because in having a business like this you
have to be very careful, if its your obsession it won't be a good business. You
will run the risk of caring too much for it and you won't be able to manage it
properly, or know when to pull back. I really love it, but I know the boundaries
of good business as well."
"Everything from the Coen Brothers, like Raising
Arizona and Fargo, to Scorsese the
great oldies, like The Sound of Music.
And of course Thai films, which I go out to see as much as I can. Unfortunately
many of them aren't subtitled for their first runs here."
about the limited range of films available in Thailand?
"I wouldn't say it's all that limited, relative to what it could be. But
this is really up to the distributors here, like UIP, which brings in Universal
films; Warner; Fox; and Buena Vista, which brings in Disney's movies. They all
bring in mainstream films, because they sell. I think we need to get boutique
distributors to bring in more avant-garde films. The fact is that a certain type
of film does well here: shoot 'em ups, high action, adventure, really out there
stuff like that. So it's hard for them to break out of that mold and say, `Well,
why don't we do something different, why don't we try a more artistic style, or
a different type of film with a little bit wider reach.'"
there so much overkill with these blockbusters like Harry
Potter, Pearl Harbor and The Lord of
the Rings, which get shown in so many theaters?
"Because they're popular here, and they sell. I mean, there were whole
stores in malls here that sold Harry
Potter paraphernalia, so obviously there's a market for it. A lot of this
also depends upon the deals the theaters have arranged with the distributors,
some of which will demand that they run these shows for two weeks on say seven
of their screens. And the distributors in turn depend on what the studios give
them. But the theaters do want to maximize the film of the moment, because they
know that in the beginning, there is going to be a big surge to see these films,
so they will try and accommodate that. And those big movies do get a lot of
advertising. And so it does become increasingly different to see other films
when these blockbusters come out, but not impossible."
people write reviews for you?
"They can certainly inform us of their interest, and we can proceed from
there. Whoever's interested can contact our editor Tammy Stone, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tammy, by the way, is a Canadian, most recently from Toronto, who's working on
her Masters of film and writes some of our reviews as well. We're always looking
for eager movie reviewers with knowledge of film to send out to do both movie
and DVD reviews. And we are more than happy to get Thais as well as
tell us about your portal in Malaysia?
"We set up the Malaysian site a few months ago because we wanted to expand
into other areas, but we wanted to do it cost effectively, and build up slowly,
so it was purely a business decision. We wanted to stay in the pocket of
South-East Asia, close to Thailand because that's our primary market, and a lot
of the films that come to Thailand also go to Malaysia and Singapore. They are
all on the same circuit. This means we can use the content we developed for the
“We did a lot of research on Malaysian movie
sites and most of them are in English. The theaters and distributors sent us the
content and show times directly. We have to dig a little deeper with the Malay
and Hindi films, but we've been doing pretty well."
"We are thinking of expanding to Singapore. That's the same type of
business decision, its close by, and the city shows the same films with the same
style. We also look at demographics; Singapore has a lot of visitors, the type
of people who visit our site. Then maybe we'll head to Manila, because the
Filipinos are crazy about films, and then probably Jakarta. We're focusing on
our DVD section pretty heavily too right now, and will soon be expanding into
the sell-through market."
had some success with your WAP site?
"We worked with Ericsson in developing it and the good thing about it is it
practically runs itself once the initial framework is established. It's become
very popular in the last few months, because there's an increasing demand for
accessing showtimes on mobile phones. So people are using it the way it is
supposed to be used, which is not to read four pages of a review, but to get a
quick idea of what's playing, where, and at what time. For the more detailed
information, there's always movieseer.com!"
about using GPRS?
"GPRS is much quicker because it's always on, you don't have to dial in and
connect to the server like to you do with WAP. You just click on to your
bookmark and it shows right up. The only problem is that here in Thailand, it
takes a while for that kind of technology to come in and be widely used as
people don't upgrade their phones as quickly as they do in say Hong Kong or
Singapore. Right now SMS is so popular because every one who has a mobile phone
can use it."
other high-tech gadgets should we be on the watch for?
"The new phones to look out for are the Ericsson T65 and T68 with color
screens, and the new Nokia with a color camera, where you can snap photos and
send them to people. Also ‘imode’, or ‘DoCoMo’, in Japan, which has color screens where you can download trailers of
movies in four seconds."
Please tell us about your
work with John Stevens and the Best in Bangkok on the Joy Luck lottery? “I met
John Stevens through a mutual friend of ours last year. It turns out that our
companies had a lot synergy, with both of us being in the Internet business.
When he told me his idea about the Joy Luck online lottery, I thought it was
fantastic idea and wanted my company to be associated with it. As it turns, we
do the filming for the lucky draw every Friday. We shoot the draw on a digital
camera and then transfer it to the web so all viewers can view the live draw.
This is, we feel, a great way to add great credibility to the weekly draw.”
Tel: (662) 633-8600
Fax: (662) 633-8614