Local 2018 horror flicks like “Hantu Kak Limah” and “Dukun” have been smashing records at the box office, with the former making RM32.5 million since its debut.
However, the pressing issue remains – Malaysian movies can’t seem to hold a candle to Hollywood blockbusters with the exception of a few gems. So why aren’t Malaysians flocking to the cinema to support homegrown content?
Last year alone, the Malaysian film industry produced and released 59 movies that only drew in 4.5 million from admissions. In comparison, the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia revealed that the figure has declined from 2016 when 47 Malaysian feature films made a total of 7.16 million admissions.
It’s no surprised that Malaysian movie-goers, particularly the Generation Y, still prefer Hollywood flicks. Former entertainment journalist Ku Seman Ku Hussain commented that the process of movie-making these days have diverged from the production in the 1980s and 1990s.
Let’s ask ourselves this question, “When was the last time you were really eager to watch a locally-made film in the cinema?” Never mind. If there’s one consensus, it’s the fact that there’s no surefire formula. Having said that, here are some of the reasons that may be hindering local films from finding success:
1. Lack of audience acceptance because it doesn’t call out to all Malaysians.
A local film should include a storyline and cast that is relatable to the audiences. For example, many films by Malay directors tend to focus on the Malay culture instead of Malaysia. “These films do not even reflect the true socio-culture of Malays and are merely social fantasies copied from Hollywood or Hong Kong movies,” Ku Seman Ku Hussain said.
2. One the biggest obstacles is producing material that will not only interest different races but also movie financiers.
3. Many Malaysian movies are created solely for entertainment purposes to make money instead of driving home a valuable message.
4. Local film producers prefer making films that appeal to the mainstream movie-buffs.
5. Malaysian box office themes, more often than not, revolves around the same formula – love, the Mat Rempit (illegal street racers) life, horror and comedy.
6. Most Malaysians are only attracted to movies with light genres that are also heavy in pop culture. This explains why local films hardly make it to international festivals and end up flopping.
7. Local audiences also don’t seem to appreciate intellectual pieces. The same can be said for Oscar-nominated movies in Hollywood that are screened here.
“This is something that is worrying to me. As an industry, filmmakers will succumb to the audience’s palates. This means there would be fewer chances of quality films being produced,” Ku Seman Ku Hussain added.
8. Lack of promotion.
In the words of creative consultant Amiruddin Karim, the Malaysian film industry is only inclined to promote the movie after the final product is finished. Take “Avengers: Infinity War” for instance – the trailer came out almost a year before it hit theatres. It was able to generate buzz and sustain excitement until its debut.
Our film scene may be far from Hollywood, but the local movie industry still has plenty of potential to grow. Do you agree with the points above? If you have additional thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments below.