A bit about the local film industry

Money no Enough Money No Enough (1998) was Jack Neo’s first movie on the big screen. I believe it’s also the first local chinese movie in a very long time. Till date, it still holds the highest box office returns, the 3rd highest grossing movie in Singapore ($5.84m), just behind Titanic and The Lost World.

Here’s some interesting things to consider.

Money no Enough was released in 1998, when Singapore was still in the midst of the Economic Crisis. (Usually less people go to the movies when money is tight.)

Money no Enough is a movie about … well … not having enough money! Heh.

– In 1998, SFC reports a drop in total cinema attendence, from 17.3 mil to 16.3mil people.

– Singapore only has slightly over 4million people. Back then, movie tickets were lower, perhaps about $6? For Money no Enough to rake in $5.84m, 974,000 tickets had to be sold. That is insanely high!

The question ‘What is the problem with the local film industry’ still remains, though the answers we have now are speculations at best. A friend and I did however come to a few conclusions though:

– Singapore’s market is too small. To survive commercially, Singapore films have to be marketable to other Asian markets like HK, Malaysia and perhaps even China.

Also because the market is small, budgets likewise are small, so that movies can be commercially viable. Thus, we don’t see many action-packed full of fast cars and explosions kinda movies, but more story-driven ones instead.

– But at the same time, piracy is too rampant, and it is kinda killing local productions.

– To make things worst, most people don’t have good feelings about watching local films in general, expecting them to be crappy before even stepping into the cinema to watch them. They prefer to invest that money in foreign movies.

– A lot of local films are doing really badly in the box office. It’s not that these films aren’t good, some are, but perhaps Singaporeans aren’t ready for local artsy films. However, bad office returns unintentionally gives a bad rep for local films, making more people unwilling to try watching them, if they don’t know what to expect out of it.

– With the exception of Jack Neo’s and Eric Khoo’s films, most films never do make back their production costs, due to meagre box office figures.

In 2002, Jack made a slightly different movie, I Not Stupid. It’s the 2nd highest grossing local movie, racking in $3.8m at the box office. Some were surprised that the Sg Censorship Board let the movie through. Not only that, it caused ripples in Singapore, and started people talking about the education system. Countless letters were sent to forums, discussions made, and the ripples became bigger, that even MOE was forced to relook at the education system. Since then, many chances have been made. It’s still debatable if its merely a change in packaging, or a true change in the system, and time will tell.

In 2005, Eric Khoo’s Be with Me made the news when it failed to make the cut for “Best Foreign Language Film” for consideration for the 2006 Oscars. Meanwhile, Martyn’s Singapore Rebel (banned in Singapore) and Royston’s 15 (2003) made its way round film festivals in the US and other countries.

It’s not uncommon these days to expect at least one local movie to be produced and to hit the big screen each year. More and more people are starting to give their support to local films.

I not Stupid 2
I Not Stupid Too: “Can we Talk?”

In a week’s time, on the 26th of January, the much anticipated sequel to Jack Neo’s I Not Stupid (2002) will be released Nationwide. Storywise, it isn’t a continuation from the first movie, but so far, I Not Stupid Too has received great responses by students, teachers and parents privileged enough to catch the sneaks.

Everyone interviewed loved the 2nd more than the first, and when asked who if they would recommend the movie to their friends and relatives, most said they already did. As with the last movie, this one is suitable for all age groups, (especially parents, insist the students). So do make use of these holidays, to catch this movie, and see what people are talking about. Jack did it again!

It’s exciting to see local cinema progressing and becoming more accepted locally. Films are interesting in that it captures an era and preserves it on a media where in years down the road, would proof interesting material. There are still other interesting things to examine, which might help shed light on how to improve support for Singapore films. Size (of Singapore) is not all that matters.

11 Responses to “A bit about the local film industry”

  1. Vox Leo Says:

    I loved Be With Me and the other one about ex-prisoners (whose title I cannot remember) trying to reintegrate into society. The ending is a little bad, but I guess it’s good until that point.

    Looking forward to watching I Not Stupid Too when I get back in June (getting the DVD)

  2. Justina Says:

    The ex-prisoners show is called ‘Three good men’ or ???? i believe.

  3. rae Says:

    This movie is my favourite Jack Neo movie thusfar. very incisive observations made about the relationship between youths and their parents today. the reference to youth lingo will make you smile in agreement.

  4. Justina Says:

    Just a little update, INS2 has the biggest local opening box-office gross by far, trailing Fearless by just a little. On Wednesday (01-Feb), it had already raked in $1.41 mil!

    Fearless and I Not Stupid 2 takes the top two spots at the box-office.

  5. tengqx Says:

    Hi Justina & Wai Kay

    Would either of you like to attend the press screening of Singapore GaGa? It’s going to be released on Sturday 11 March and running for 5 weeks at The Arts Huse. We’re trying to get the word out before through not just the mainstream media, but more indie channels, and it would be wonderful if either or both of you could come for the press screening. It is a gorgeous film, and we’d like bloggers to see it & hopefully write about it. You can go to singaporegaga.com and check out what it’s about (esp the trailer & sound clips) and see if you’re interested. Please email me if you’d like me to send you the screening details. Thanks very much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Sincerely,
    Qian Xi

  6. tengqx Says:

    Hi sorry to clog up your comments page, but I replied twice to your email address that’s @singaporewatch.org & it bounced both times… How can I send you the screening details? If you give me your hp numbers I can sms to you… or maybe a non-singaporewatch.org email address? Thanks.

    Qian Xi

  7. ky Says:

    Singapore still doesn’t have any film industry of any kind. Only Jack Neo movies are making money now.

  8. sana habib Says:

    MR jack neo i love u so much.i live in pakistan and i m muslim.i watched ur movie i m not stupid too.please send me ur email id or phone no i want to talk with u.i really love your acting and i really love u.please feed back me as soon as possible my email id is sendsana@hotmail.com.i will come singapore for just want to meet with u.

  9. sana habib Says:

    MR jack neo i love u so much.i live in pakistan and i m muslim.my name is sana.i watched ur movie i m not stupid too.please send me ur email id or phone no i want to talk with u.i really love your acting and i really love u.please feed back me as soon as possible my email id is sendsana@hotmail.com.i will come singapore for just want to meet with u.

  10. Pradeep Bansal Says:

    Money not enough – Fantastic Movie. Must See

  11. bala Says:

    i really wan to noe where to buy the movie…pls reply mi…singapore movie fan..!

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