THE year 2018 was a golden year for Malaysian film industry. Four local films raked in the money at the box office, totalling more than RM100mil.
Movie fans loved Syamsul Yusof’s horror flick Munafik 2 so much, it ended up earning RM37.7mil.
This was followed by horror-comedy Hantu Kak Limah (RM36.2mil) and action film Paskal: The Movie (RM28.9mil).
Polis Evo 2, released on Nov 22, 2018, made RM22.4mil.
Never before had the Malaysian film industry seen this kind of number.
These films were also released in neighbouring countries, making their individual earnings much higher.
The figures stated above were derived from earnings from the Malaysian box office alone, as listed on the Malaysian National Film Development Corporation (Finas) site.
“It was definitely a year when many good Malaysian films were released,” said Mumtaj Begum, The Star chief reporter who covers the entertainment beat.
She said the action sequences in Paskal: The Movie and Polis Evo 2 were exceptional, boasting cinematography and stunt work never seen before in a Malaysian flick. “Likewise, the horror elements in Munafik 2 were definitely as good as a Japanese or a Thai horror film, one that’s rooted to Asian factor,” she said.
Mumtaj said that the earlier Munafik movie, released in 2016, was the first of its kind in Malaysia that mixed Islamic elements with possession.
“The film had twists, lessons and a very good storyline brought to life by brilliant actors like Nabila Huda and Syamsul Yusof.
“The eeriness was present from start to finish,” she added.
With Munafik 2, she said Syamsul the director-writer kept to the same formula – basing his story on religious teaching, and making the bad guy someone who misuses the teaching for his own benefit.
“The fact that there are many such people in real life, made all the horror in the film that much concrete,” she said.
It also helped that the film was released during a long weekend.
“It premiered at cinemas in Malaysia on Aug 30, 2018.
“Hence, Malaysians went to check it out. And apparently, they didn’t stop with just one viewing. They watched it multiple times,” said Mumtaj.
As for Hantu Kak Limah, 38-year-old writer Jamal F. Z. found it “very funny” with memorable scenes such as the villagers being chased by ghosts.
“As far as a sequel goes, it held its own,” he said referring to the previous Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah.
Although he expected much more in terms of storyline, Jamal said its main saving grace was the performances of its stars, especially Awie, and a strong supporting cast.
Previous Malaysian records were held by Chiu Keng Guan’s The Journey (2014) which got RM17.17mil, a figure that was overtaken by 2016’s Polis Evo with RM17.74, and then in 2017 by Abang Long Fadil 2 with RM18.15mil.
Today, Munafik 2 and Hantu Kak Limah are still ranked as the No.1 and No.2 films in terms of box office earnings.
Ejen Ali: The Movie is ranked as the No.3 film in the all-time Malaysian box office list, with earnings of RM30.05mil.
“Good animation, a good storyline and a popular TV character are some of the things Ejen Ali: The Movie has. Ejen Ali – which has a global following as well – shows the Malaysia Boleh spirit,” said Mumtaj.
She also pointed out the multiracial cast in other 2018 releases such as One Two Jaga, Dukun, Lee Chong Wei: Rise Of The Legend, Rise: Ini Kalilah, Gol & Gincu Vol. 2, Guang and Paskal: The Movie.
“This and relatable stories made all these films highly watchable to Malaysians,” said Mumtaj.
“Also, One Two Jaga, Rise and Guang talk about issues concerning society such as corruption and disability.”
Mumtaj named Paskal: The Movie and One Two Jaga as examples of films watched not just by Malays but other Malaysians as well.
“Malaysians in general still prefer Hollywood films but urban dwellers do support Malaysian films if the buzz is good,” she said, noting the presence of filmmakers and writers who are trying to be more inclusive in terms of telling a Malaysian story.
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