Asia saw record local hits in 2021, even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and competition from American blockbusters, according to the latest Made in Asia report.
The annual report on the Asian film industry is released as part of the Made in Asia industry program organized by Korea’s Bucheon (Bifan) International Fantastic Film Festival, which runs from July 7 to 17. Scroll down for the box office leaders in the 12 Asian markets featured in the report.
Filter spoke with distributors and producers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam about the success of three local hits.
Anita (Hong Kong)
Real. Longman Leung
Local distributor: Edko Films
Local box office: $7.8 million
This biopic about legendary Hong Kong actress-singer Anita Mui hit theaters in November after being billed as the closing film of the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. Produced and distributed by Bill Kong’s Edko Films, the film became the highest-grossing local film and the third-highest-grossing film overall of 2021.
“Anita Mui is a collective memory. His life and songs have had a strong influence on Hong Kongers,” says Mandy Lam, General Manager of Sales and Acquisitions at Edko Films.
Despite her humble origins, Mui’s bold image and charismatic stage presence propelled her to be the most sought-after canto-pop diva of Hong Kong’s golden age in the 1980s and 1990s. She was also an acclaimed actress, winning Best Actress at the Golden Horse Awards and HKFA for her role as Leslie Cheung’s ghost lover in Stanley Kwan. Red in 1988.
Some of these key moments in his life are captured in Anitawhich opens with his last concert in 2003, less than two months before his death at age 40 from cervical cancer, and looks back on his legacy.
“Louise Wong’s wonderful performance and authentic recreation of old Hong Kong also helped make a mark in the Hong Kong box office,” adds Lam.
The casting of Wong, a professional model, was kept secret until a few months before the release. She is nominated for both Best Actress and Best Newcomer at the Hong Kong Film Awards (HKFA), during which the film received 12 nominations and is set to premiere on July 17.
Outside of Hong Kong, the film received wide pan-Asian release, including in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, all distributed through Sony, and in China. A five-episode, 45-minute director’s cut launched on Disney+ in February.
man in love (Taiwan)
Real. Yin Chen Hao
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Local box office: $13.84 million
This romantic drama is a remake of Korean director Han Dong-wook’s 2014 film of the same name. Released in early April 2021 – before Taiwanese cinemas closed in late May for the first time during the pandemic, it became the local film the highest-grossing and the second highest-grossing film of the year after Spider-Man: No Coming Home and is the sixth highest-grossing local film of all time.
“Based on the original Korean film, we added many Taiwanese elements, from production design to local customs, and spent time to fully understand the heart and soul of the adapted story,” explains executive producer Veronica Jin. man in love marks the first film project from Jin’s Taipei-based production company Calendar Studios.
“We marketed the film as a new style of Taiwanese romance,” she adds. “The exceptional performance of the two leaders did not go unnoticed. Their romance was handled in the most natural way that resonated well with the audience.
The A-list cast includes Roy Chiu (dear ex) as a petty thug who begs a young woman, played by Hsu Wei-Ning (Netflix’s The game of victims) to go out with him to pay off his family’s debts. The two actors married in real life after the film’s release.
man in love marks the feature debut of music video director Yin. He and the cast worked hard to promote the film, completing nearly 200 Q&As after the screening. “Taiwanese audiences usually keep their feelings to themselves, but they cried when they came to say thank you,” Jin said. “The film is melodramatic. If a melodramatic movie can make people cry, we’ve accomplished something.
The film was also released in China where it earned an additional $41.5 million and in Korea. It is available on Netflix worldwide.
Dad, I’m sorry (Vietnam)
say. Tran Thanh, Vu Ngoc Dang
Local Distributor: Galaxy Studio
Local box office: $18.3 million
Drama Dad, I’m sorry broke all local records after its release in Vietnam in March 2021, selling over 5 million tickets and surpassing Avengers: Endgame as the nation’s highest-grossing film of all time with $18.3 million at the box office.
“Unlike a remake with a Westernized theme, the film is an authentic and genuine representation of Vietnamese culture and is designed for the general public,” says Vo Thi Thuy Trang of Hanoi-based producer-distributor Galaxy Studio.
The story revolves around an extended family living in a noisy alley in Ho Chi Minh City. Conflicts and arguments between family members are everyday affairs, even over small things.
“Characters will realize that family is the most beautiful thing they should cherish,” Trang adds. “This meaningful message was successfully conveyed to the audience who can easily relate to the touching story.”
She also credits the film’s success to the huge popularity of comedy actor Tran Thanh who previously directed and produced a five-part web drama of the same name, which has garnered a combined 180 million views on YouTube since December 2020.
The film version of Dad, I’m sorry marks Thanh’s feature debut, which he co-directs with Vu Ngoc Dang and also stars as the eponymous father.
Internationally, the film hit another milestone in the United States, earning $1.3 million through distributor 3388 Films – the first Vietnam-produced title to break the $1 million mark. . The local success also led to theatrical releases in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. The film was also Vietnam’s submission for the International Feature Film Oscar but did not make the shortlist.
A Forum Made in Asia discussing the possibilities and challenges of a post-pandemic film industry will take place in Bifan and air on July 10. Panelists include Japanese producer Masumi Aikawa; KOFIC researcher Matthew J-woo Lee; Liza B Dino of the Film Development Council of the Philippines; Indian journalist Keyur Seta; and Thai journalist and producer Donsaron Kovitvanitcha. The session will be moderated by International ScreenJean Noh, Asia editor.
Top-grossing local films in Asia in 2021
* Highest-grossing film overall in the local market
1. CHINA: The Battle of Changjin Lake: $864.5 million *
Real. Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark, Dante Lam
Distributor: Zhejiang Bona Film and TV Production, Huaxia Film Distribution Company
2. JAPAN: Evangelion 3.0 + 1.01 Once Upon a Time: $78.97M *
Real. Anno Hideaki
Distributor: Toho, Toei, Studio Khara
3. INDIA: Pushpa: the ascent: $32.72M *
Distributor: Mythri Movie Makers
4. KOREA: Escape from Mogadishu: $27.33M
Real. Ryu Seung-wan
Distributor: Lotte Cultureworks Lotte Entertainment
5. VIETNAM: Dad, I’m sorry: $18.7M *
say. Tran Thanh, Ngoc Dang Vu
Distributor: Galaxy Distribution
6. TAIWAN: man in love: $13.83M
Real. Yin Chen Hao
Distributor: Calendar Studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment
seven. HONG KONG: Anita: $7.82 million
Real. Longman Leung
Distributor: Edko Films
8. INDONESIA: Maxim 2: $4.94M
Real. Guntur Soeharjanto
Distributor: Dee Company, Blue Water Films
9. THAILAND: 4 Kings: $1.99M
Real. Puttipong Nakthong
Distributor: M Pictures, Neramitnung Film
ten. SINGAPORE: The Diam Diam Era 2: $1.25M
Real. Jack Neo
Distributor: Golden Village Pictures
11. MALAYSIA: Rumah Maduku Berhantu: $73,024
Real. Abdul Razak Mohaideen
Distributor: GSC Films
12. PHILLIPPINES: Taya: box office n/a
Real. Roman Perez Jr.
Distributor: Viva Films
Source: Made In Asia, edited by Bifan