Crowd puller: The Journey stars 73-year-old Lee Sai Peng as Uncle Chuan and Joanne Yew Hong Im as his daughter, Ah Bee.
PETALING JAYA: Local film director Chiu Keng Guan has not lost his Midas touch when it comes to Chinese New Year movies. His previous movies Woohoo! (2010) and Great Day (2012) were the highest grossing local Chinese films of their respective years.
This year’s The Journey looks to continue that trend, judging from the box-office receipts for its first two weeks of release.
During the Astro Chinese New Year media dinner on Monday, it was announced that the movie had grossed RM6.6mil in its first 11 days of release surpassing Chiu’s previous efforts. Woohoo! collected RM4.2mil in eight weeks, while Great Day took nine weeks to reach RM6.5mil. The Journey grossed RM2.2mil during its opening weekend (Jan 30-Feb 2), and went on to collect another RM2.3mil last weekend (Feb 6-9).
Chiu was understandably happy about the achievement when contacted yesterday.
“Getting such a good reception from viewers with such encouraging box-office receipts in such a short time, it’s all beyond my expectations, simply unbelievable,” he said.
The Journey stars 73-year-old Lee Sai Peng as Uncle Chuan, an old-fashioned and conservative man staying alone in Cameron Highlands, leading a lonely retired life. When his only daughter Ah Bee (Joanne Yew Hong Im) returns home from studying overseas and announces that she is marrying her foreign boyfriend Benji (Ben Andrew Pfeiffer), Chuan reluctantly agrees under one condition – that Benji accompanies him on a journey all over Malaysia to deliver the wedding invitations to his 11 ex-primary schoolmates in person.
Chiu and Lee have been meeting cinemagoers on their daily road shows since its release on Jan 30.
One fan was even in tears after the movie, hugging them while saying it brought back so many memories for her. One Westerner was so moved by the scene of Uncle Chuan peeling an egg that he watched the movie again.
“While I knew that scene would be a moving one, I didn’t expect it to touch people so deeply. It just proves that love is universal and even a non-Chinese viewer can understand that special feeling despite not knowing the language,” said the 41-year-old filmmaker who has set his sights on a project set in the 70s to 80s for his next project.
“When you put your heart and soul into making a movie, people will notice your sincerity.
“We paid a lot of attention to the details in the movie, sometimes spending days just waiting for the right sunlight. But in the end, it was worth it because the viewers have told us those were their favourite scenes.”
The Journey is presented by Astro Shaw and produced by Woohoo Pictures.