Bootlegs in Thailand

From street stalls to secret rooms, bootleg DVDs are plentiful in Thailand.  Any street market will have a stall showcasing the latest DVD rips, which feature photocopied box art housed in a flimsy plastic sleeve.  Prices range from $1-3 USD and you can bargain when you buy in bulk.  The salesmen are pushy and annoying, they spout out as many titles as they can as you browse the binders of selections, almost all of which are either American or British and include most of the modern television programs that you can think of with a full season of, say, Breaking Bad going for $4 USD.  We really only had one minor bootleg-related adventure, but it’s worth relating…

While shopping for beach sandals in Phuket (I bought a pair of Havaianas, $3.50 USD) I noticed that one of the DVD stalls had a copy of The Woman in Black, that recent British horror film starring Harry Potter.  The salesman saw my interest and immediately started badgering us to follow him to “More!  More!”, which we reluctantly did.  He led us through one of the many souvenir shop clones, in the back of which was one of the many low-cost tailor clones.  Katie and I exchanged a look since there obviously weren’t any DVDs in sight, but the salesman quickly removed a rack of shirts from the wall to reveal a door, which opened to another door, which opened to a secret room covered in DVDs.  The selection was overwhelming, but we didn’t stay long as I was hot and sunburnt and really not in the mood.  I picked up the aforementioned Woman (a copy of a British industry screener that skipped horribly) and The Beach (a straight DVD rip sans extras, looked perfect) since I had never seen it and we were visiting the island it was filmed on the following day.  We left the room and were immediately preyed upon by the on-site tailor and the souvenir saleswoman, that’s how Thailand works.

So that’s about it, Thai DVDs are cheap and plentiful.  By the way, legitimate DVD releases only run about $4 USD in Thailand, which is really what they should be priced (I picked up the Luc Besson-produced Taxi series, which was strangely never released in the US though the first one was remade).

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

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