BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand is prepping for a Hollywood influx. Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" will blast out of retirement here early next year, and Denzel Washington will arrive next month to play a drug lord in the upcoming film "American Gangster."
Stallone will spend several weeks in Thailand early next year, shooting "Rambo IV: In the Serpent's Eye" in the country's lush, mountainous northern provinces, said Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office.
In the latest sequel, John Rambo is pulled out of retirement in Bangkok to help find missionary aid workers who disappear as they're delivering supplies to ethnic minorities in neighboring Myanmar.
About 70 to 80 percent of the movie will be shot in Thailand - in Bangkok and the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai - earning Thailand about $5 million, Wanasiri told The Associated Press by telephone Thursday.
She said that after a committee read the "Rambo" script, they gave the green light for the shoot in Thailand, but voiced concern that violence in the movie could reflect badly on ethnic minorities on the Thai-Myanmar border.
"Some scenes might be a little bit violent, so we asked them not to make it too violent because if we say that the ethnic minorities are violent, it might be inappropriate," she said. "We did not forbid them - we just asked them to be careful."
She also wanted the filmmakers to assure villagers and environmentalists that any bombing scenes - "in that `Rambo' style" - would not harm the environment.
Activists were up in arms over the "The Beach," shot in 2000 and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, complaining a beach in a Thai national park was damaged during the shooting. The filmmakers denied it.
Washington will come to Thailand Nov. 8-13, Wanasiri said, to play Harlem heroin kingpin Frank Lucas in "American Gangster," about drugs smuggled to New York in the 1970s inside the coffins of American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.
Only about 5 percent of the movie will be shot in Thailand - in the capital Bangkok and in the mountainous north - employing about 250 Thais and bringing the country at least $1.6 million, Wanasiri said.
Thailand has touted itself as an ideal film location and had a total of 372 shoots this year for foreign movies, TV series, ads and music videos, worth $37 million.
Recent blockbusters shot partially in Thailand include "Alexander" and "Star Wars Episode III."
On the Net:
Thailand Film Office: http://www.thailandfilmoffice.org/