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'Bangkok' got a little dangerous

September 8, 2008 | 11:36 am

Nicolascage1

There are a lot of curious reasons for shutting down production on a movie –- cash flow woes, an unfinished script, a leading lady suffering from "nervous exhaustion."

But filming on Nicolas Cage’s moody, poorly reviewed thriller "Bangkok Dangerous" -- which captured the top spot at the box office this weekend by hauling in a paltry $7.8 million -- ground to a halt on location in Thailand in 2006 in response to a crisis that’s pretty far out even by Hollywood’s most extreme force majeure standards: coup d’etat. 

In a bid to ouster prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s military suspended the constitution, declared martial law and abolished parliament. But it was only when soldiers seized government offices and took up strategic positions around Bangkok, that co-directors Danny and Oxide Pang were forced to finally yell “cut.”

"About 20 minutes before the tanks rolled, the police detail we were using in the scene we were shooting pulled out," recalled "Bangkok Dangerous" producer William Sherak. "I said, 'What are you doing? You’re paid for!' The head of police said to me, 'We can’t stay. It’s martial law.' "

Ultimately, production was disrupted for just one night’s worth of shooting. But in that time, Cage split for another part of Asia to keep his loved ones out of harm’s way.

"They planned it to be as peaceful as possible but still, there were military guys on every street corner with guns. The tanks were 200 feet away," Sherak said. "Nic left; he took his wife and family and went to Korea out of concern for their safety."

Ironically, the only gunfire audible in the Thai capitol during the bloodless coup came courtesy of "Bangkok Dangerous." Still, the predicament left the producers scratching their heads about how to proceed. "Do I wake up the bond company? Is this an insurance issue?" Sherak remembered asking producer Jason Shuman at the time.

His producing partner’s response: "We don’t have military unrest insurance! This is supposed to be a peaceful Buddhist country!"

-- Chris Lee

Photo courtesy Lionsgate

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