SouthernThailand (where popular tourist destinations Phuket, Kao Lak and Phi Phi Islandare located) was hit hard by the Boxing Day tsunami.

Whilethe Thai people are generally in mourning, the cinemas are still doing briskbusiness, as reflected by the strong box office of two local titles. Jaew,a new action comedy produced by GMM Tai Hub and directed by YongyoothThongkonthun (Iron Ladies 1 and 2) grossed $1.8m (Baht70m) in thethree weeks since its 23 Dec opening in Bangkok alone.

Alsoon release is Beautiful, Powerful, Perfect, a comedy drama directed byPoj Arnon and distributed by Sahamongkol Film which grossed an estimated$644,000 (Baht25m) since its opening on 6 January. Teerachai Triwongwaranat,chief cinema officer of leading exhibitor Major Cineplex, says, "The box officedid slow down in the first few days after the tsunami. But things get back tonormal quickly, especially after the New Year."

Asfar away as Japan, however, the tsunami is being blamed for the worst NewYear's box office in recent memory. Studio Ghibli president and Howl'sMoving Castle's producer Toshio Suzuki said: "It might be difficult[for Howl's to break the BO record of his own Spirited Away].

Atidal wave of a different kind may also have been at work. "Japanese audiencesare getting tired of Hollywood films," says Suzuki. "A lot people nowhave cable and satellite, as well as DVD and video players. They don't justwatch movies - they analyse them. They're getting wise to Hollywood tricks.They watch a movie like The Terminal and after ten minutes they know howit's going to end. Why should they pay money at the theatre to see somethinglike that'"

TheMotion Picture Distributors Association of Australia also has the tsunami onits agenda. It rallied distributors and exhibitors to help the victims.Although this is peak box office season in Australia with Academy Awards buzzplaying alongside Christmas blockbusters, allproceeds from tickets sold nationwide on the morning of Sunday January23 will be donated to Care Australia, the largest non-political non-religiousorganisation in the country.

Amongthe films released yesterday were Roadshow's Alexander, UIP's Alfieand Les Choristes, handled by Buena Vista International. UIP also has Rayon preview, as does 20th Century Fox with Sideways and MadmanEntertainment with Thai action flick Ong Bak.

Meanwhile, in India, SubhashGhai has offered his film Kisna to the Indian government and any stategovernment that wishes to hold a charity premiere of the film in aid of Tsunamivictims on January 20.

The film will open in Indiaon 21st January 2005. The US$ 9m Kisna is being directed and produced bySubhash Ghai under the banner of Mukta Arts Ltd, and has mixed cast from Indiaand United Kingdom.

Vivek Oberoi plays the titlerole of Kisna with two new heroines: Isha Sharvani from Kerala, a renowneddancer from Kerala and Antonia Bernath from London. The cast is supported by British actors Michael Maloney, CarolineLingruish and veteran actress Polly Adams with Hrishita Bhatt, Amrish Puri, OmPuri, Yashpal Sharma, Shivaji Sattam, Zarina Wahab and Rajat Kapur.
Meanwhile, Britain's home video distributors will release a special comedyclips DVD next month in a bid to raise £1m to aid Unicef's Tsunami Children'sAppeal.

Titled "The Best ComedyDVD In The World," the British Video Association-endorsed DVD will bereleased on Feb. 7, priced £9.99, and will feature a huge range of modern andclassic British and international comedy ranging from stand up to the movies.

Produced by RevolverEntertainment and distributed by Pinnacle Vision, the release will be backed bya comprehensive press campaign that will include TV & Radio interviewsupport from Unicef's celebrity ambassadors. There will also be an above andbelow the line marketing co-ordinated by Revolver.