Saturday, May 21, 2011

Malay movies raking money! Or is it?

If we were to take the Finas box office charts as official, then the last quarter of 2010 seems to be the beginning of a new era of Malaysian or Malay movies. The numbers that were being coined are above anyone’s wildest imagination and expectation.
The top five movies of 2010 and including the first six months of 2011, all broke the six million ringgit mark.
Whilst most people thought Mamat Khalid’s Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah was the box office king, according to Finas’s list, which according to its site is accurate as of April 2011, the horror comedy Ngangkung, produced by MIG, is the current box office king with RM8.18 million in ticket sales.
Khurafat, directed by last year’s best director winner, Shamsul Yusof, took in RM8.08 million which pushes Mamat's Kak Limah into third place with RM7.90 million.
Another MIG production, Adnan Sempit made the top five list with RM7.66 million.
Many thought Adnan Sempit’s box office take was a fluke for Malay movies, having been the first local production to amass takings that exceeded the previously untouchable RM7 million mark. But now, four movies have since passed that mark within 12 months.
KRU’s convoluted and confusing and hardly ‘Malay’ movie Merong Mahawangsa: The Malay Chronicles, took in RM6.5million to date and just made it to the Top 5 list. However, as most industry people already know, MIG’s Kongsi directed by actor-director Farid Kamil, has already bypassed Merong’s take within a week of its release.
In fact, David Teoh of MIG is confident Kongsi will be the first local movie to break the RM10million barrier.
Whilst some are calling the last 12 months an exciting period for Malay movies, with 5 movies taking in a total of nearly RM50 million, what they fail to notice the other titles that fell on the wayside. Amongst these include Associate Professor’s Razak Mahyidin’s horror flick Ratu and M. Jamil’s miserable Momok 2.
Others that didn’t even show on the radar include Senjakala, Seru, Haq, Dalam Botol, Di Sini Ada Hantu, Cun!, Di Larang Masuk, Penunggu Istana and Kembar Siang.
Ratu was the worse performing movie having only taken RM200,000 at the box office. James Lee’s Di Sini Ada Hantu did better by getting RM1.2 million. Momok 2: Jangan Panggil Aku took in less than half a million. However, I cannot seem to get an official box office report for Antara Dua Alam.
These are all rought estimates as listed on FINAS’s website and as most people in the industry knows, 50 percent of the take goes to the cinemas and distributors. Therefore the producers only take half of the box office takings.
These means, Ratu’s take for the producer is about RM100,000 whilst Di Sini Ada Hantu’s producers Double Vision and Tayang Unggul take in less that RM600,000.
If the average cost of producing a local movie is in the region of RM1.5 million, then in actual fact, not many producers are actually making a profit from their movies this last 12 months.
Merong Mahawangsa, reputedly made from grants totalling in access of RM10 million, had a box office take of over RM6 million but take away the cinema’s owners take of RM3million, their net take was only RM3 million plus. Therefore, they are still RM7 million in the red. Their only saving grace for KRU is that the grants given to them for the movie are ‘grants’ and not loans.
These figures are also only revenue earned in Malaysia. Therefore news of sales of Merong Mahawangsa made by its producers that the movie has been sold to overseas markets for more than RM20 million ringgit is be good news to everyone on board KRU and the institutions that gave them the grants. The movie, if the sales figures announced are true, is therefore a financial success.
Other producers. Are now sweating cold beads waiting for the release of their films. Grand Brilliance's Nur Kasih went head to head with the latest installment of Pirates of The Carribean. Movies with clout like Thor and Fast And Furious are still pulling in the crowds taking away possible revenue from local filmmakers.
However, Nur Kasih is not really being affected by the foreign movies but rather of Kongsi’s phenomenal showing in the same week. The coming week’s school holidays will be crucial to Nur Kasih’s success. More so since the reportedly production cost for this movie based on TV3’s successful series cost RM2.8 million to produce.
On the other hand, Datuk Yusof Haslam would be relieved to see Kongsi’s screen success as his latest movie, directed by Shamsul, is also of the same genre entitled KL Gangster, and he would be happy if it could match Kongsi’s take.
Other movies waiting on the sideline nervously include 321 Cinta, Rasuk, Sekali Lagi, Tolong Awek Aku Pontianak, Karipap Karipap Cinta, Libas, Flat 3A, Hantu Bonceng and Raya Tak Jadi.
All except Libas, are either comedy or horror. Libas, is a comedy-sports-action movie in the vein of Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer.