Life is good at the cinema in 2018

The English titles overshadow the others, garnering a whopping 70% of the share of movies that are shown at the cinemas nationwide

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By www.cinema.com.my

MALAYSIANS have so much to look forward to this year at the cinema. From the intense jaw-dropping Jurassic World — Fallen Kingdom, the latest instalment of the Jurassic Park film series which recently opened in the first week of June, to the gender bending heist film Ocean’s 8 which is out this week, and the musical, drama cinematography A Star is Born, cinemagoers are really spoilt for choice.

Let’s see…we can also look forward to writer-director Brad Bird’s superhero sequel, Incredibles 2 and the animated Spiderman film, which is expected to be released at the end of the year.

People all over the world are still going to the movies. Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s Jurassic Park — Fallen Kingdom opened with RM602 million in 48 international markets this week.

Ocean’s 8, a project by Warner Bros Entertainment Inc and Village Roadshow Pictures Entertainment Inc, pulled off a solid start overseas. The female-led reboot has so far secured RM49 million in 16 international markets.

Evidently, movies these days do offer more than just simple escapism. As much as they entertain, some do open one’s mind and expand the imagination with possibilities.

TGV Cinemas Sdn Bhd content strategy manager James Andrew Chong said movies will never go out of fashion. In fact, the cinema has its own seasons and cycles as well.

Chong said the past years showed just how much Malaysians love “creature features”.

“People here love action films, disaster films, movies with monsters and supernatural horrors.

“There are so many films coming out this year that we know people are already looking forward to watching; movies like The Equalizer 2, Aquaman and Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” he said to The Malaysian Reserve recently.

He said Korean films are also on the uptrend lately, as well as selected Thai horror films.

“Most Asian titles are supported by a strong cast, so even if the movies are not that good, people still come and watch them,” Chong said.

According to Chong, the English titles overshadow the others, garnering a whopping 70% of the share of movies that are shown at the cinemas nationwide.

“The English titles take up the larger percentage, while the remaining 30% is a mix of Asian titles, which include films from Hong Kong, China, Korea, Thailand and the local films,” he said.

Chong said a film can be considered successful in Malaysia if ticket sales could breach between the RM10 million and RM15 million mark.

“We also look at admissions from our side, but they vary from title to title. Basically, it boils down to dollar and sen,” he said.

Chong said while film distributors would bring in all the titles available, it is ultimately up to the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia who will decide if the films could hit the screens or not.

“People must know that not all film titles will be played, regardless of whether they make it big in Hollywood or not. Obviously, blockbusters will be played and censored unfriendly movies will not see the light of day,” he said.

“Even The Walt Disney Co’s Beauty and the Beast was almost banned. It also depends on the suitability of the title or how commercial it is,” Chong said.

He added that films which cater to a more niche market — movies that he described as “Oscar movies” — might get rave reviews all over the world, but do not fare well at the box office.

“For example, The Darkest Hour, the film about Winston Churchill. I thought it was really good, but as a moviegoer myself, do I think it would sell out? No.

“Independent film owners who bring their films in will want to make back their investments. “At the end of the day, justifications must be made as to what is expected from the box office and before deciding if the movie would get passed over or not,” Chong said.

He added that films are also less likely to be shown in the country if they bomb internationally.

As for the cinema operators themselves, Chong said location of operation is also key to determine the performance of certain titles, especially for local or Asian films.

“Some movies will sell better in metropolitan areas, while some will do better in the more rural areas. All that is also taken into consideration,” he said.

Chong said that exhibitors do try and play every title that is released, but it would still be up to the viewers to judge.