Local film industry showing positive signs of recovery


PETALING JAYA: After long periods in the doldrums due to Covid-19, the local movie industry has bounced back strongly with several box office hits.

Malaysian TV Producers Association treasurer Datin Wendy Wong said she was informed by the National Film Development Corp (Finas) that the local movie industry grossed RM187.7mil in the box office last year.

Making waves: Wong, standing in front of a Marche Du Film sign at Cannes, says that the Malaysian film industry is rebounding.Making waves: Wong, standing in front of a Marche Du Film sign at Cannes, says that the Malaysian film industry is rebounding.

This against the significant decline recorded in 2021, with the local film industry merely grossing RM0.24mil and RM11.63mil in 2020 due to cinema closures, she added.

Wong said local blockbuster films such as Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan raked in RM90mil in Malaysia, even beating Avengers: Endgame that garnered RM87mil in the box office in 2019.

“The lucrative box-office success continued with the list of big earners, Air Force The Movie and Mechamato Movie which grossed over RM30mil,” she told The Star.

Wong said since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, local cinemas had been struggling to cope with the constant disruption caused by increasing consumer video demands and the adoption of over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as streaming sites.

She said Finas informed her cinema going in the country had since experienced a significant rebound, with an estimated total box-office gross of RM326.6mil last year for both domestic and international films, compared with merely RM28.9mil in 2021.

According to Wong, the global movie and entertainment market was expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.2% from 2022 to 2030 to reach US$169.68bil by 2030.

Wong said 2023 manifested the high potential of the local film industry’s continuing strong momentum towards a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive high-impact industry.

“Finas is optimistic that this will be fuelled by continued support, strategies and initiatives in driving sustainability, profitability, marketability, employability and productivity of the ecosystem,” she added.

Wong said that in 2020, the pandemic gravely impacted the film industry, resulting in the shrinking of RM0.4bil valued gross domestic product (GDP) to the market.

She also said at least RM5bil was lost from diminished box office revenue, countless job losses, decreased foreign investment, permanent closure of cinemas and a significant downsizing of operations and production being impacted.

As part of efforts to mitigate adverse economic impacts, Wong said Finas supported the industry via film financing, capacity building, market access and content development.

“The stakeholders have also gained access to valuable funding that has helped raise the quality of their productions and encouraged the creation of more jobs through Digital Content Grant (DKD).

“DKD amounting to RM46.99mil comprised feature film and documentary film grants, marketing grants and the TV/OTT Programme which generated 3,175 job opportunities,” she said.

According to Wong, the strategies to revamp the industry included improving the Finas Act 244 and National Film policy, stimulating the development of local content through the First Feature Film Fund (Fame) grant for first and second-time filmmakers.

Wong, who is currently attending the Marche du Film Festival in Cannes, France, said there were also strategies to position Malaysia as a rising global hub of the film industry through the Film in Malaysia Incentive (Fimi) whereby Finas had secured a foreign direct investment of RM1.4bil valued investment this year.

Yayasan Kebajikan Artis Tanahair chairman Datuk DJ Dave said the local movie industry was on the right track with innovative techniques and technologies being used.

“I was quite surprised when I saw the techniques, angles and technology used in some of the movies and dramas. They have really done well,” he added.

DJ Dave said the local movie industry was set to receive a huge boost with the launch of the latest biopic Anwar: The Untold Story, which documents Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s journey in battling corruption.

Anwar: The Untold Story, costing about RM10mil, opened in cinemas nationwide on May 18.

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