SERIOUS film industry publication Film Journal International last week deemed Ola Bola “bombed miserably“. In a review of the worldwide box office, analyst Thomas Schmid wrote about Chiu Keng Guan‘s ambitious “failure” while painting an adequate picture of Malaysia’s attitude towards soccer.
But who can blame any of them?
You see, according to the Film Journal piece posted last Thursday, Ola Bola failed to make a dent on local charts during its run. Although Ola Bola has proved to be one of the nation’s most successful film since its release, the fact is that barely anyone beyond our borders knows the real deal.
Although director Keng Guan Chiu’s hopes were high, Ola Bola! bombed miserably since its limited release on Jan. 28, failing to even make it into the lower ranks of the country’s box-office top 20.
Now, how can an author for a reputable publication come up with such an observation? Simply because there are no Malaysian films on the weekly Malaysian box office reports publicly available!
If you’ve ever trawled through the net looking for weekly Malaysian box office figures, you’ll realise that none exist. All we have is the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia‘s cumulative yearly tally.
So we contacted the author of the aforementioned piece via email to inform him about Ola Bola‘s great financial success, and he was kind enough to acknowledge the discrepancy.
“I have nothing to hide and my reporting was done in good faith, but as it has transpired now there have been inaccuracies due to the lack of reliable weekly box office figures,” he stated.
Indeed, a glance at worldwide databases doesn’t reveal any local films on local charts. Purely based on these observations, the “Malaysian box office” seems to be a place for fans of Hollywood (and Bollywood) to congregate and swoon over mainstream blockbusters.
Ola Bola‘s run for example doesn’t appear on international box office reports on Malaysian cinema, such as this snapshot of its release week courtesy of Box Office Mojo.
Imagine that to most outsiders, there is no such thing as commercially-viable Malaysian cinema, because Malaysian films seem unable to generate enough money to even make local charts.
We once tried asking Twentieth Century Fox Film for weekly figures, as we saw no point in merely receiving chart positions and theatre counts. The pleasant representative on the other side of the line however politely explained that he’s not authorised to do so, as all figures are kept private.
So what do we do then?
“I see nothing wrong with contacting authorities and lobbying for a regular public disclosure of those figures. Even China — usually not all too keen on providing any statistics publicly — is doing it,” further noted Thomas.
Yes, even a massive film industry like China has somehow managed to aggregate information from over 30,000 screens (Malaysia has something like 160 screens) and started releasing daily data!
Meanwhile, we’re still on yearly data, which begs the question: are people doing their jobs, and is China actually better than us?
It would be easy to blame FINAS for this problem — and to some extent we do blame FINAS for failing to mandate weekly reporting in the thirty-six years of its existence. But really, whose job is it to make sure there’s comprehensive weekly updates from our film industry?
To be fair however, this lack of transparency is attributed to every one of us who have conditioned ourselves to simply accept, unable to tell the difference between the concept of redha and simply giving up.
In any case, we corrected Thomas and provided him weekly box office figures from our own source.
And back to this edition of Chart Chat, Chiu Keng Guan’s fourth film, if you’re curious, has made somewhere around RM15.3 millionᴬ to date although it has slowed down after six weeks at the box office.
Readers were split pretty evenly last month when we asked them to predict the film’s box office collection. At least 41% are expecting it to make more than The Journey, however.
Though obtaining approximately RM451,000ᴬ from 79 screens last weekend (a very strong figure for #9 on the chart), we don’t think it’s on track to beat Ghaz Abu Bakar‘s Polis Evo at this rate.
The biggest local film of the week however wasn’t BoBoiBoy The Movie (#3, RM3.1 million)ᴬ as previously expected but Munafik (#2). Syamsul Yusof‘s horror flick scores over RM3.8 millionᴬ this weekend from 110 screens, for a total of over RM7.9 millionᴬ after two weeks.
With a better per-theatre average than BoBoiBoy The Movie, Munafik might hold on just long enough despite its genre. Though horror films usually take massive tumbles after debut week, Syamsul’s film seems to be working against the trend.
This week’s number one? London Has Fallen successfully gets Malaysians to fork out RM5.31 millionᴬ over 124 screens.
All numbers thanks to our source who wishes to be identified as KK, while chart positions are credited to Fox. Please factor in an error margin of at least ±5% in interpreting figures. The Daily Seni will greatly appreciate any help in further verifying them!