Even guests at The White Lotus are cost-conscious these days.
When “The White Lotus” Season 3 chose Thailand over Japan, it received millions of dollars in filming incentives, Japanese producer Georgina Pope said at the Tokyo Film Festival.
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Pope recalled during her MPA keynote address having gone on a scouting trip with what she referred to as a “high profile showrunner” who was interested in shooting in Japan. Producers and studio executives were also in tow; Deadline later confirmed the showrunner to be “The White Lotus” creator Mike White.
“It was a great scout. We saw some absolutely stunning locations all over Honshu. The showrunner loved it all, and I was feeling very confident that I had it all in the bag,” Pope said.
Ultimately, Thailand’s filming incentives (and natural beauty, sure) wooed White away.
“The Thai government had just announced a renewal and improvement on their film incentive system. A 30 percent rebate. For their project, that meant $4.4 million alone,” Pope said. “Everyone looked at me with sympathy. At the time in Japan, we had no incentive in place at all. I could not respond with a concrete answer. All I could hear was the sound of a $35 million project flying out the window.”
White’s rep did not respond to our request for comment on this story.
We’ve known since the Season 2 finale that Season 3 of “The White Lotus” was likely headed Far East. In a post-finale featurette, White teased an Asian location for his next season, which he said would focus on “death and Eastern religion and spirituality.”
“The first season kind of highlighted money, and then the second season is sex,” White said. “I think the third season would be maybe a satirical and funny look at death and Eastern religion and spirituality. It feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round at White Lotus.”
Even that was not the first time he mentioned Asia for Season 3. Ahead of the Season 2 premiere, White told Deadline, “I think it’d be fun to maybe go to a whole different continent. You know, we did Europe, and maybe Asia, something crazy like that, that would be fun.”
That was Japan, until it wasn’t: Variety in March reported the news of the move from Japan to Thailand.
The first two seasons of “The White Lotus” were shot at the Four Seasons resorts in Hawai’i and Italy, respectively. Thailand’s four Four Seasons resorts are in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and the Golden Triangle.
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