Even visitors at The White Lotus are mindful of expenses now. For its third season, “The White Lotus” chose Thailand over Japan, earning substantial filming incentives, as revealed by Japanese producer Georgina Pope at the Tokyo Film Festival.
During her MPA keynote speech, Pope spoke about a location-scouting trip with a notable showrunner keen on filming in Japan.
The entourage included producers and studio executives; later, Deadline confirmed this showrunner as Mike White, the creator of “The White Lotus.”
“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 recounted.
However, the appealing filming perks from Thailand, combined with its scenic allure, swayed White. “The Thai government had just announced a renewal and improvement on their film incentive system, offering a 30 percent rebate.”
“For their project, that translated to $4.4 million alone,” Pope shared. “Everyone looked at me with sympathy. At the time in Japan, we had no incentive in place at all.”
“I couldn’t provide a solid answer. All I could hear was the sound of a $35 million project flying out the window.”
It’s been speculated since the end of Season 2 that Season 3 of “The White Lotus” would venture to the Far East.
After the Season 2 climax, White hinted at an Asian setting for the upcoming season, emphasizing themes like “death, Eastern religion, and spirituality.”
White observed, “The first season kind of highlighted money, and then the second season emphasized sex.”
“I think the third season would perhaps offer a satirical and humorous perspective on death and Eastern religion and spirituality. It feels like a fertile backdrop for another White Lotus installment.”
White had earlier hinted at an Asian setting for Season 3. Before the launch of Season 2, he mentioned to Deadline, “I think it’d be fun to perhaps explore a completely different continent.”
“We’ve covered Europe, and maybe next is Asia – something adventurous like that.” Initially, it was set in Japan, but plans changed: Variety reported in March about the transition from Japan to Thailand.
“The White Lotus” first two seasons were shot at the Four Seasons resorts in Hawaii and Italy. Thailand, on the other hand, has Four Seasons resorts in locales such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and the Golden Triangle.