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Taiwan hoping for tourism boost from movie Life of Pi

2012/11/27 19:07:54

Taipei, Nov. 27 (CNA) Taiwan is hoping to cash in on the early success of the movie "Life of Pi," which was filmed mostly on the island by Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, a tourism official said Tuesday.

Since the wide release of the 3-D movie on Nov. 21, it has shot to No.5 in the international box office rankings, grossing US$30 million, major movie news websites show. In China alone, it has raked in more than 100 million Chinese yuan (US$16.1 million) in just four days, topping the box office there.

It is also No. 1 in India, home to three of the main cast members -- the lead actor Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and actress Tabu, On the opening weekend there, the film grossed 195 million rupees (US$3.5 million), according to the Indo-Asian News Service.

Yang Ruey-tzhong, director of the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association's Beijing Office, said Taiwan is hoping to boost its tourism through promotion of the film sites, particularly among Chinese tourists.

Based on a novel of the same name by Canadian Yann Martel, the movie tells the story of Pi Patel, a 16-year-old Hindu boy who survives a shipwreck and is stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days with an orangutan, a hyena, a wounded zebra and a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker.

Most of the scenes were shot in Taiwan over a four-year period, with the Taiwan-born director using computer-generated imagery to create effects such as a raging Pacific Ocean.

At the production studio at the site of a former Taichung airport, the film crew built a huge wave pool that simulated the Pacific Ocean.

An exotic floating island where Pi arrives during his journey was shot in Kenting Banyan Park, and a scene that portrays a Mexican beach was filmed at Baisha Bay, southern Taiwan.

Yang said the tourism association is stepping up promotion of those sites and surrounding tourist attractions, including the Maokong Gondola in suburban Taipei.

Many of the places are worth "wandering around leisurely," he said, but did not elaborate on the promotional campaign.

Animals from Taipei Zoo, including rhinoceros, lemurs, and a Formosan black bear native to Taiwan, were used in the filming at the Taiwan locations.

Some of the scenes were also shot in India, in Pondicerry, Kerala and Munnar, among other provinces.

The fantasy feature has also been doing well at the box office in Taiwan and Hong Kong, grossing NT$65 million (US$2.23 million) and NT$42 million, respectively, over the first five days, according to Taiwan media reports.

(By Lawrence Chiu, Ho Hung-ju and Kendra Lin)
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